Better Information

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For people to be able to use transit, they must first know it is there and be able to understand how to use it. This means it is extremely important for transit systems to provide clear and concise information on their available services. Because transit serves a broad cross section of an area’s workers, residents and visitors, it needs to be clearly understood by all. Most large transit agencies provide a wide array of public information, telephone support, printed materials, full-featured websites and real-time information.

How can Nashville MTA/RTA improve access to information for all residents? What method(s) of communication would you prefer? What do you think?


  1. says

    I am moving to Nashville for a few months. I have lived in many large metropolitan cities in Europe with fantastic transit systems and think Nashville’s biggest problem is not its current transit limits but in conveying how to get around easily. I jokingly said to one Nashville Lyft driver that London is 10+X bigger than Nashville, but Nashville’s transit map is 10X more complicated to understand.

    I arrived at a bus stop location more than ten minutes before a bus was due and couldn’t find the bus stop. I ran after the bus until the driver let me on! Signage and how routes are conveyed are in need of a massive overhaul. I hope the plan is not simply to grow the system as it currently exists, but rather to improve the system and grow that.

    While I agree many industries have progressed over the decades such as banking moving from cashier to ATM to app, transit is no different where the app is the current necessity. I still think a really good map goes a long long way. Here is a great talk from an event I helped organise.

  2. Peachie J. says

    The app.

    The app will be the most important method to increase ridership and customer satisfaction.

    I am a regular mass transit user. I have lived in New York City, Boston, and DC and relied on public transit solely in those cities and in Nashville. It is not Nashville’s diminished span or frequency that bothers me. It is not having an app. People do not ride the bus, because waiting in inconvenient. If you can eliminate or predict wait time, people will use the buses more. I guarantee it.

  3. David Smith says

    Can we not put GPS trackers on the buses and send that info to an app? Would be nice to pull up the nearest buses and get ETAs, like the Uber app does for its cars.

    Actually, Uber gives every driver a cell phone and uses a phone app to send the location data, so no additional hardware even needed. So many cheap ways to GPS track things nowadays.

    • Mollie Henry says

      Great idea. Let MNPS use it for school buses, too. SO tired of waiting for a school bus that never comes…

    • says

      Thanks for your comment, David. MTA/RTA is currently developing an app that will be rolled out in late 2015 and early 2016. Services like Uber and Lyft present opportunities for coordination with transit. Inclusion of those services along with bike sharing, car sharing and other programs in one app could only enhance the overall experience of navigating the transportation system. Please review our First and Last Mile strategy paper and let us know of other ideas that may work in this regard.

      • bill says

        Accurate information would be very helpful.
        I take the 56, it often breaks down, it did so yesterday.
        The only option is to wait and hope the next bus comes.
        It would be good for the electronic sign boards to be used to inform riders that the bus is delayed/not coming.

        I hope this future app will be for more not just be Apple–most phones are Android.

  4. Mary says

    The app for smart phones are already in use elsewhere so buy a system that actually works…We didn’t need the Amp to afford and implement this.

  5. Tony Birmingham says

    App with realtime updates definitely, website, and printed schedules. I think the app will be the most used but I like having a printed schedule showing the route map.

    • says

      Thanks for your comment, Tony. MTA/RTA is currently developing an app that will be rolled out in late 2015 and early 2016, and considering several other options to keep riders informed about travel times and routes.

  6. JA Douglas says

    As a former western PA inhabitant, I remember seeing printed bus schedules anywhere and everywhere that you went. I’m almost sure that always being able to find and grab a bus schedule influenced the way that I chose to travel around that city. The brochures were titled in such a way that made it simple to quickly understand the route and easily plan out my day.

    • says

      Thank you for your comment, JA. MTA/RTA is currently considering several options to provide riders with more information, including printed handouts.

  7. Stephen McClure says

    I use transit less now due to frustration with not knowing when and if a next bus is on its way. Most people do not have the time or the patience to deal with the lack of specificity inherent to the current bus info system (or lack thereof). The impression I get is that the time of those using the bus is not valuable, and there is no effort to help them maximize it. This must change if we are going to make bus transit more attractive to current non-users.

    • says

      Thanks for your comment, Stephen. Providing riders with the information that they need to find and reach their routes on time is an important part of improving service.

    • bill says

      I’ve gotten that same impression at times: that the riders time is not valuable.
      I am a “choice” rider, I could drive but choose not to but the many hassles I encounter often make me consider returning to my car.
      For instance, I ride the 56 from downtown. It is supposed to leave at 330pm. MOST days it doesn’t even show up until 330.
      Too often the 56 breaks down and riders are left wondering if or when a bus may show up. That happened yesterday and I barely made it to work on time.

  8. Jan says

    I think website and app information are critical to the success of MTA & RTA. I think these should be the “front line”of information. Call in centers need to be available for tourists, those who have unique situations and need unique services. However, people calling in don’t need to be kept waiting in order to have their questions answered. Please, Please, Please, do not use an automated system!

    When I was investigating the possibility of service, I was only going on logic and getting the information I needed was hard.

  9. Chelsea Lafferty says

    YES TO APP!!! It would be nice to have real time updates so I do not have to wait 45 minute at the bus stop for a late bus.

    • says

      Thanks for your comment, Jan. MTA/RTA is currently developing a real time tracking app to help riders find and reach their routes, and plans to begin rolling out the app in late 2015 and early 2016.