Light Rail

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Light rail transit (LRT) is electric urban rail service that typically operates in exclusive rights of way. Most often, it uses one- to three-car trains and is designed to serve high-volume corridors at higher speeds than a local bus or streetcar service. Design and operational elements of LRT include level boarding, off-board fair payment and traffic signal priority. Stations are typically spaced farther apart than those of local transit services and are usually situated where there are higher population and employment densities. While longer stop spacing can increase walking distances for some riders, people are typically willing to walk farther to reach transit if service is fast and frequent.

Should Nashville MTA/RTA consider implementing light rail? If so, on which corridors? Would you use light rail? What do you think of this service?


  1. Christian says

    Yes, yes, yes!! We’ll think about cost later. I think that light rail would fit perfectly for Nashville!! I think it would be good for upper Broadway and West End Avenue because of all the bars and Ascend Ampatheater, Vanderbilt University, and Cintennial park. I also think that another route that would be successful would be a route from Nissan Stadium, BridgeStone Arena through The Gulch to Belmont University. Then again another route would be from First Tennessee Park, Bicentennial Park, BridgeStone Arena, Trevecca University to the Airport. Lastly, a route from the Airport to the Grand Ole Opery and Gaylord Opryland Resort.

  2. says

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  3. Ryan Jarrett says

    YES YES YES, I have rode an express bus for over a year now and at least once a week it is over 15 minutes late and at least once a month it breaks down on the side of the interstate! I think more people would ride a light rail system. Nashville is booming, we need to do something fast before it gets really out of control!

  4. Kay says

    yes Yes Yes yes yes please build light rail. Look at DC and St Louis – airport, downtown, Vanderbilt, Brentwood, etc. YES YES YES!

    I think many would prefer light rail with commuter lots strategically located.

  5. says

    I think this idea is the most popular in the majority of conversations I’ve heard. It’s ability to not add to the congestion as well as provide a clean alternative to driving. Possibly enticing people to ride, if not all the time, then sometime to reduce a carbon footprint. It is also a more internationally alluring, and forward thinking transit option as we move into our energy-stressed future.

    I would like to see a rail system that anchors itself in the 5 main suburbs of Nashville; i.e. Bellevue,Brentwood, Donelson, Madison and Bordeaux. With sidewalks and greenways to support them of course.

    I also feel this would open (distant) future development opportunities to expand into other towns that might enhance the tourism opportunities (outward traffic) of Middle Tennessee’s hard-hit small town economies. There are beautiful depots in almost all of Tennessee’s small towns that could enhance Nashville and Tennessee’s historical presence as a city and a state. I think Tennessean’s would rejoice in the idea of a tri-city (Memphis/Nashville/Knoxville) express in our future — or the future of our children.

  6. Randy Reed says

    YES YES YES! We need light rail. A basic,at least to start, north south line and an east west line. Obviously downtown and the airport are required which really is a natural part of the above mentioned basic lines. It is a huge venture and there likely will be naysayers. The advantages to our entire community are almost countless. Let’s do this sooner rather than later.

  7. Chris says

    Run light rail on 65 from Franklin/Brentwood, but jump off onto Franklin pk after 440 and run it down the center lane with limited stops to give people quick access to melrose/12south, the gulch, and all of the music venues on 8th, as well as Music City Center.

  8. says

    I currently ride the 96x route and 55 route frequently. I agree that Nashville does need a rail transit system that is fast and reliable. I would love to catch a train from Smyrna to downtown. Even better if I could use it on Saturday and Sunday too. Between the woes of parking and traffic congestion in town, the bus and MTA/RTA is the best and cheapest way to get around. I’ll continue using these transit services long into the future!

  9. Stephen McClure says

    Gallatin – Nashville, through Hendersonville
    Murfreesboro – Nashville, through Smyrna and Lavergne
    Franklin – Nashville, through Brentwood

  10. Ron Coons says

    YES. YES. YES. Build it today !!! Think Portland, OR or Denver, CO…we need a light rail system yesterday. Great way to connect Bellvue, Franklin, Galatin, etc to downtown. Please NO more bus related ideas. Light Rail works.

  11. Billy G says

    I drive the I-65 portion from White House daily into Nashville. If I were sitting in traffic and saw a light rail transport passing me every day it wouldn’t take long for me to figure out that’s the best way to go. I’ve thought for years that a rail system along the interstate corridors would be great for Nashville. My family and I would do lots more in Nashville if it weren’t for the Drive & Parking hassle. Let’s build it!!

  12. says

    Not light rail but rather an Elevated Line on Charlotte, Hwy 70, Nolensville Rd, Murfreesboro Rd, Gallatin Rd, Dickerson Pike, 440, Briley Parkway, Old Hickory Blvd. Regional from Clarksville, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Hendersonville, Lebanon

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  13. Jennifer W. says

    I think light rail is a big part of the solution, and I would definitely use it if it were installed. I have lived in cities where subway and light rail were options, and they are fabulous — fast, clean, convenient, affordable… the list goes on. I think an investment in light rail is worth it because the user experience is so much better than buses. You can whiz past traffic on your dedicated track rather than sitting in traffic like a bus has to do. Light rail is a worthy investment for our city! I would like to see rail from East Nashville Hub Points to downtown and points west.

  14. Elijah says

    Some kind of rail is desperately needed – through the main interstate corridors into and out of the core, but also AROUND the core. I feel this is a major problem with the bus routes today. If I’m in South Nash and want to get to West End via bus, I have to go all the way into downtown and transfer, then go back out to West End. If route and stops are frequent and comprehensive, people will no doubt use the system. Thompson – Briley – Wedgewood – White Bridge connects the whole southern half of the city, and yet there is no route doing the same.

  15. Jennifer Pennington says

    Light rail & streetcars were 86’ed under Dean as too expensive and inflexible. Replacing auto lanes with any type of transit is not going to help congestion…their own studies showed this. People will not “choose” transit until it can beat cars in every way, which has yet to happen. The other ways “choice” has been offered is by sabotaging auto traffic. Taxpayers will not allow that. MTA needs to make its local transit work before we throw money at another bad mass transit plan.

  16. Mike Myers says

    Rail is a great solution! Expensive, yes, however any solution that leverages roads is inferior. Rail between the airport and downtown should be the starting point as it will have the biggest bang for the buck. Getting to the airport during the afternoon rush hour is horrendous and severely impacts Nashville’s ability to conduct business.

    • says

      Thanks for your comment, Mike. The airport to downtown route is an important one to consider, and is currently being studied by Nashville MTA/RTA for potential solutions.

  17. J.R. Marable says

    Nashville is in desperate need of light rail. It most definitely needs to begin with the I-24 Corridor then the I-65 Corridor. The traffic congestion is pretty horrendous. I do not care about the cost but I do want something in place to where I can decide to drive or not. The biggest thing that I want is less traffic congestion in the mornings and evenings. I would ride light rail every time I went into the city. I would never drive it definitely needs to start with the I-24 Corridor first.

  18. Steve Roche says

    I would love to see light rail from Hiway 100 and 70 to 1st street, East Nashville and the gulch. It would be great to go out to dinner, a club, the Titans, Sounds or Predators and not have the hassle of parking or driving after having a drink or two.

  19. John Cannon says

    While light rail is a very good option, BRT is just as good.
    1. It is cheaper for the tax payer to afford and quicker and easier to implement
    2. Can move just as fast if configured correctly.
    3. The BRT lines can easily be converted to light rail later.

    Nashville needs relief now.

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  20. Chris M says

    Light rail is the only way to solve Nashville traffic problems. We as a community MUST wake up our politicians on this matter. Our politicians must realize it going to take money to get it up and going. I’m sure there NOT sitting in it in the morning/evening. Politicians are out of touch with working forks. Which is really sad!!!!

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  21. says

    hell yes. Every time we make the roads bigger, we only seem to make the traffic jams bigger. Nashvillians, in large part, will not ride the bus. So, put down some rails. If we have not bought/procured and set in motion the construction of our second light rail line before Mayor Barry’s first term is up, she will be a failure in the transportation department. We have been talking about this for 20 years. do something tangible for God’s sake.

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  22. Hubert Simon says

    YES! I don’t care about cost… forget that!
    Just build it right away! Right now! Get THE MONEY AND BUILD IT!
    That said, I believe light rail would be good for connections to buses downtown, and the areas of focus are…Murfreesboro Road, Twelve Avenue south, Madison and west end area and Vanderbilt areas and the gulch with connections to buses downtown and you can alleviate the BRT lite routes. You can have four different light rail lines with proper names for them. And as far as time schedule goes, I would say, begin the trains at about Monday thru Thursday, and on Friday and Saturday. on Sunday, the trains can go from until 1a.m.they should run every ten to twelve minutes until 9.p.m. and then every half hour until the last train departure. On Sunday, the can run every 20 minutes until and then every half hour until the last train departure.

  23. Dan says

    Break ground on this today and it will provide for economic growth and help tie this city together in new and exciting ways. Ignore the Belle Meade crowd who do not want “riff raff” from East Nashville in their neighborhood. Light rail costs more, but its value to growth and development, and to the ease of moving large numbers of commuters from outlying communities to the city center, Vanderbilt, and the hospitals makes the expense worthwhile. Nashville spent about $600M on the convention center; let’s make the best of Middle Tennessee available to all.

  24. Michele - Bellevue says

    As someone who lives in the suburbs of Nashville, I love the idea of light rail IF it comes all the way out to the burbs. I live in Bellevue and would love to attend more downtown activities but the drive in and then trying to find a place to park that isn’t “event pricing” makes it too much of a hassle. Also, I bet it would be more cost effective for those Bellevue residents that work downtown between parking an gas to take a light rail if it were available and it would be faster than the bus. If there was a light rail option – down HWY70S center median into downtown – that would be FABULOUS! Then you wouldn’t have to worry about parking or other hindrances.

  25. David Smith says

    I’m worried that light rail will reward sprawl with easier access to the city from the suburbs. I would like to see it to be easier to get around within the core rather than easier to get in and out of the core.

    • Josh says

      The problem here though isn’t just getting around the core. the problem is getting in and out of the core as well.

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  26. Cynthia Stannard says

    Light rail is the best option for Nashville. Remove the center lanes of the interstates and elevate across busy highways. Maybe if all the single car drivers could see how much faster and relaxing it is to get downtown, they would see the light. Have parking areas close to rail stops, so people could get from their homes to the train stop, if busses aren’t readily available. Reduce the amount of parking downtown and increase the cost of parking.
    Make it unattractive and cost prohibitive to bring a vehicle into the urban areas.

    • Josh says

      Whoa there Satan.

      A light rail is great, but don’t force people to use it. Why punish someone who feel safer or more comfortable getting around them selves? Make the light rail cheap and cost effective (yes), Don’t make it even more costly and punish people who make a choice or potentially make that choice for them. Premier has enough of our money.

  27. Mary says

    Louisville is concentrating on Light Rail.
    The fear in implementing Light Rail is that it would ruin traffic on the interstates for the next zillion years. The way to cook or build a house economically is to have everything measured and ready onsite. As an example–The interstates are having work completed in one weekend for each repair.
    Apparently, the State makes a plan years in advance …is approved for funding by then the plan is outdated. I don’t know if this is true but, I have heard it from more than one person.

  28. david utley says

    A light rail offers seperation between roadway and heavy rail traffic and moves swiftly between stops. Funding this thru the farebox will not pay for the system alone. Considering the areas around the stations for a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) formula could add a long term stream of funding to pay for the bonds needed to capitalize the light rail (MagLev) system. Historical records from numerous studies indicate a property value increase of 127% at each loading platform location up to approximately 3500 feet away. Beyond this the property values increase to a lesser degree. A TIF strategy for a average 30 year bond repayment offers significant funds to make Light Rail (MagLev) a viable solution and seems to be more equitable than a blanket tax strategy across the region. The cost would be repaid by the property owners nearest the stations as they will benifit the most from increased traffic volume to their location.

  29. Tony Birmingham says

    I think that the best use of light rail is the existing interstate ROW as has been mentioned. It may be less to use overhead rail to minimize cost and leave space for future lanes. A “user fee” IE: “wheel tax” was tried before in 60’s or 70’s. The roads are either national or state roads and metro accepts funding from state and federal sources. Imposing fees on autos has been struck down in court before and it’s really bad PR.

  30. Randy Rayburn says

    A great component of a multi-modal plan where appropriate as CSX and other providers will not provide use of their right of way. Dallas is a great example of a city that has dramatically improved their service over the last two decades.

  31. Jan says

    I like the thought of light rail. A very thought out plan for connector stops would need to be made, especially in the Nashville area.

    Being able to go to the various hospitals for visits would be helpful, I believe. If we can find methods of cutting down on the need for parking in the downtown area, it will be helpful as well.

  32. John Stone says

    Light rail in the medians on interstates I-65, I-40 and I-24 connecting downtown Nashville with Lebanon, Murfreesboro, Franklin, Gallatin and points in between, coupled with a “user fee” imposed on cars travelling into Nashville from the outlying counties, would provide a carrot & stick approach which would alleviate traffic congestion on the interstates as well as downtown. The use of the medians would minimize land condemnation costs and disruption of existing neighborhoods and commercial areas.

  33. Stephen says

    Light Rail is great! This is definitely a way to go. Dallas TX is a great example of how successful it can be!

  34. Stephen McClure says

    Even though it is an expensive transit option, I believe that light rail is the best solution for commuting from Nashville to our suburbs. Gallatin, Franklin, and Murfreesboro would be great routes to figure out for this mode of transportation. While I personally believe that buses are a good option, I believe that for the majority of folks in our area they have a negative connotation. One appeal of light rail is psychological — a new, modern, shiny alternative to driving.

  35. JA Douglas says

    Light rail services would be very valuable for commuters traveling into the city’s core from Southeast Nashville. The I-24 W. morning traffic flowing into city is backing up further and further into Rutherford County. The time and gas saved from having access to alternative transit solutions could significantly improve the quality of life for us all.

  36. Heather (Scheiderer) Drexler says

    Yes – this would be a fantastic solution for Nashville. If you would build a rail line in the middle of 65 going north/south and one in the middle of 40 going east/west, I think you’d be surprised at the amount of users you would have. For business/pleasure purposes, we should have an easy way via rail to get to the airport and to our respective employers whether they are located in Brentwood, Franklin, Downtown, Mt.Juliet or the West Side. I used to live in Atlanta and would always use light rail for concerts/sporting events/going to the airport and would have for commuting to work, but was in a Sales role and needed a car to visit clients on a daily basis. Let’s make it happen!

    • Pat Olhausen says

      Agree, Heather. Nowadays by the time I get to work in the morning, I’m tense from the traffic, and I’m exhausted when I finally make it home in the evening. Unfortunately, Nashville will need buy-in from the outlying areas and I’m not sure some of them will go along (Brentwood?).

  37. Chelsea Lafferty says

    I think this is a great idea and a step in the right direction. I would really like to see the light rail going down into the I-24 area to relief traffic on I-24 downwards Nolensville Pk. and Murfreesboro Pk. There is also great potential in helping our new Americans if we serve these areas. They are the areas where people rely on public transit the most next to East Nashville area. Thank you MTA for value the public’s input.