More Frequent Service for Longer Hours

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Frequency (how often a service operates) and span (how long service runs during the day and night) measure how much service is available. Availability determines how convenient and attractive transit service is to current and potential riders.

Transit that operates both frequently and for a long period provides a higher level of service to a broader cross-section of the population. A more diverse ridership can better sustain higher levels of service, which generates a virtuous cycle: Transit that better serves riders encourages more people to use it more frequently.

More frequent service and longer hours of service can:

  • Make transit service more convenient.
  • Give riders more flexibility with their own schedule.
  • Establish transit as a viable travel choice for more than just work.
  • Make transit easier to use and understand.

Should Nashville MTA/RTA increase frequency and hours of operation? Would you be more likely to ride transit if the schedule better matched your own? How late and how frequently should transit run?


  1. Jacob K says

    yes!! Sometimes I wish I could use a bus but it just isn’t running when i need it in the evening. Nashville has a nightlife, it should have night transit.

  2. Joyce Claassen says

    Earlier starts would make riding the train a viable option. As a high School teacher if it started sooner I could ride the train in with my bike in tow and make it to school in time. But since the first ride in doesn’t get to downtown till 6:30, there is no way any high school teachers or students can utilize the Train unless they go to Hume Fogg.

    Plus, would love to see MNPS students gain access to free rides on Music City Rail like they do on Buses.

    Also my husband would use it more if the schedule was later. Being apart of the music business he frequently has to stay in town later than planned due to concerts/showcases and that completely complicates with out having access to later train rides.

  3. Kent says

    I love to ride the train when it’s available but the times that it is currently offered is completely unreasonable and unusable to most. If we’re trying to grow revenues for downtown establishments, then why do we not offer train services at night for those who live in Lebanon Mount Juliet Donelson and Hermitage to be able to get downtown and back via MTA?? If the issue is cost then let’s look at some creative pricing plans and better frequent rider plans for those who are willing to pay in advance for a series of rides. The fact that we have the train and it runs so infrequently is really doing the community a disservice.

  4. Jonathan Marx says

    I work downtown and typically commute 3 miles from my home in 12 South on foot or by bicycle. In evenings, it’s great to be able to take the bus, but it’s often the case that if I don’t time my departure perfectly, I miss the option to catch one of three lines that will run near my home and will have to wait up to an additional 30 minutes. It would be ideal if the buses ran with more frequency during peak travel times (4:30-6:30 pm) and also ran later in the evening as well. I’d be more likely to use the bus on nights when I have to stay late at work for an evening event. As it is now, on those nights, I walk/bus home and then take the car back into work so that I know I have a reliable way of getting home at 10 or 10:30 in the evening.

  5. Mr. See says

    I think the free lines (green, purple, and blue – downtown) could be re-routed and used as a way to build, or explore, new routes and their popularity. How about a crosstown? Or, circuits around the city’s outskirts? It’s depressing to watch them go by empty all the time. Not to speak of the traffic and construction the routes constantly require them to drive through. Once ridership gets above at certain goal, begin to collect fares and move the free bus to a new area.

    If you can give people free transit, and they can’t, or choose not to, use it… well then, build a highway on top of the highway and be the first city to go ALL CAR and be proud of it. That bus station downtown could finally become what it’s always wanted to be – a parking garage.

    24 hour service 7 days a week.
    Less stops.

  6. Brian says

    I had an internship during the summer at the Lentz public Health center, but sometimes the bus would be late to arriving to its destination , but more frequent bus arrivals would be best

  7. OR says

    I have worked in the Donelson/Hermitage area in the past. I wasn’t able to ride the bus. If I needed to get to work on time it meant driving to a park-n-ride (or walking 1.5 miles) then going downtown and switching to another bus then walking another 2 miles to get to the job site. I think cross city lines would be nice. After work I would have to reverse the routes, except it would take me three buses (and two hours) to get home because the express would leave downtown before I could get there. Later service or cross town routes would be nice.

  8. Emelyne Bingham says

    Need more direct routes without having to change downtown. I can’t justify spending 60+ minutes on a bus when I can drive from EN to Vandy in 15 minutes or less.

    • historytrip says

      Hope someone reads your comment – why are riders required to go into town and then back out when they only seek to go from one part of town to another which they can do by driving a car on one road cross town, i.e., from Charlotte Avenue to Nolensville Road? or go from West End to town and back out to Hillsboro Road … to get from one side of Vanderbilt medical center to the other side???

  9. PeggyW says

    We also need better pullouts at the curbs so buses do not block traffic when loading and unloading….or for example, when drivers stop to get meals at Krystal on 21st.

  10. Toni Gant says

    If we increased the frequency and kept the lines open at an earlier and later start/end times. I think more folks would use the bus/public transportation. I have a bus that stops right outside my house on McFerrin but the bus does not run early enough (5:10- 5:30 AM) for me to catch the connecting line. The same holds true for my return. After a 12 hour shift, I do not want to wait at a terminal or stop for more than 30-1hr. Increase the ease, and you’ll increase the use.
    I also agree with previous comments about the need to have more information out there for the public. There remains a lot of misinformation and negative opinions about public transportation.

  11. Dana says

    I wish the #20 Scott could come back on Sundays. I work night shift and I’m lucky enough to live right on that line but I have to walk 3 extra blocks at night on a Sunday. Also later on the weekends would be helpful in not being at work an hour and 1/2 every Sunday. Also events on the weekends would be better too. Luckily uber can some times subsidize my need for transportation. but I can’t afford to use them every day.

  12. M. S. says

    I would emphasize that until there are parking garages built that people can drive to, park, get on a frequently departing bus…..our traffic issues will not change.
    Parking garages on the outskirts needs to the first or second priority.
    While in London…there is a congestion tax on the downtown area…wow…traffic wasn’t bad at all…plenty of LARGE parking garages.
    Rather than in typical Nashville fashion there is a new parking garage [MDHA land] currently being built downtown rather than on the outskirts of Nashville.

    • mandy says

      This makes sense, Park & Ride garages.Near major lines.
      There’s got to be more cross town routes too.
      The disincentive for me is : If I ride Nolensville route to donwtown central and then catch outgoing to Hillsboro/Vandy, it can take me 60 minutes (not counting walking to bus stop). I can do this in 35 in my car.

      • PeggyW says

        Definitely need more crosstown routes. I don’t have time to ride downtown from Charlotte Ave to change buses to get to Green Hills for a Dr. appt.
        Can buses use I440 with transit stations at each exit? I440 was built as the inner loop, then repeat with Briley pkwy, and then with Harding?

  13. Tom Hardin says

    I think we should aim for higher frequency of bus stops, etc. every 20 minutes would be a reasonable marker. The length of service is also important while more costly to run late buses I would suggest you might get higher use if they ran later. I think at first the city should plan to try to maximize frequency and length of service and evaluate over a two year span the increase in rider ship
    Meanwhile we may take a loss but it is important to see if you would attract more riders if the service was more readily available

    • Kent says

      Many major metropolitan areas are now adding congestion taxes during certain times of the day, and others are adding toll roads and increasing told to try to incent people to not be on the roads during busy hours. Some of these actions are made possible by the growth in telework and flexible work hours, but in order for this to really work we have to greatly improve are Metropolitan Transit options. If you look at any of the top tier cities like Washington DC New York Chicago or Denver they all have fantastic transit systems that citizens and visitors can rely on for timely transportation at most times of the day. I know that they all have problems and I am on many of them every year, but one consistent thing that makes them work is a large number of routes that are available all day long and this is very different than what we have today in Nashville.

  14. Mike Bernard says

    If Portland,OR and Berlin, WGermany can do it, why can’t we run a bus line every 15-20 mins? Why not use smaller buses if we are not filling the standard sized ones?

    • Tammy says

      Moving to smaller buses on routes that are used but underutilized, such as the 20 Scott on Sunday would be a great solution for everyone. Getting rid of the route entirely was very disruptive as was getting rid of some of the routes during the week.

  15. Michael B says

    My work hours are 6:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. I live about a 10 min. drive from work. I rode buses for my entire primary school career…even started on a streetcar in Memphis. In Athens, Berlin, and Portland, OR and Atlanta, GA I have ridden mass transit that was convenient and reliable, if not comfortable. Getting a bus or streetcar or light rail every 15-30 mins. in the city was no problem there. Even more often, actually. Hardly ever walked more than 4 blocks. Surely we could at LEAST get more frequent buses running, and why not a few SMALLER buses if we are not filling the standard sized ones?

  16. Mark Powers Terry says

    I would like bus drivers to be more courteous to elderly disabled people and to stop at designated stops (IT’S THIER JOB!) and not leave people stranded in the rain on the last stop of their shift on a Friday at night in the dark with NO WAY TO GET HOME!

  17. Bill says

    I would ride the Music City Star more frequently if I could get a ride after 6:30 p.m. The last train from Riverfront leaves at 5:45 p.m., which is too early for me to leave work. For the many who leave work at 5:30 p.m. or 6pm from mid-town, riding the train with the current, limited schedule is not an option.

    • Kent says

      +1 to this. It’s almost as if we run this train the minimum amount possible to be able to simply say that we offer it as a service.

  18. EHenderson says

    I know Nashville thinks that it is up to speed with larger cities in the US because of the downtown expansion, but the city has a long way to go. Especially if you are asking if Nashville should increase frequency and hours of operation. Nashville is no longer the small country town; it is a metropolitan. Of course Nashville MTA/RTA should increase frequency and hours of operation including out to the surrounding counties Rutherford, Franklin, Wilson etc. Yes, I would be more likely to ride transit if the schedule better matched my own. I think the buses should run 24-7 or at least until 1:00 a.m. so that I can ride the bus to a Predator’s game without having to call a taxi to get back home. For inner city buses should run every 15 to 30 minutes and in the outlying cities every 30 to 45 minutes. All of the changes in the world will not be beneficial if you do not inform the people of the services you offer. Right now you do not do a good at that.

  19. Julia says

    Frequency and reliability are the critical variables to lure people out of their cars. They also have the most meaningful quality of life impact on those who have no other means of transportation. Non driving citizens are an ever increasing segment of our population base; seniors, youth, and those with physical or mental impairments or financially restricted are all members of our community who are held back from fully participating in the riches of our community without transportation access. One small example is that a number of our parks have no transit access whatsoever.
    Davidson County is almost 535 square miles so it is impossible and unreasonable to expect the same density of service without the same density of users; however current building trends and projections within Nashville Next highlight increasingly dense neighborhoods that are ripe for increased transit service.
    I also hope there will be a education plan and process promoting actual BRT implementation where appropriate.

  20. Claudette Fizer says

    For the parents and clients that we serve, transportation that fits the hours that they need to get from where they live in to Nashville and to their jobs would be a huge help. Often we are able to locate and secure jobs. However, the public that we serve often do not have reliable transportation. We do not currently have ANY bus service to Cheatham Co. Some have used the Midcumberland Vans for even temporary transportation, but these do not run long enough in the evening for commuters to get back.

  21. Nathan says

    Frequency is a huge factor in my choice to ride the bus. If it came more often on the #5 and #21 routes, I would certainly ride it more often. Thank you.

  22. Doug Leins says

    If the bus routes were more frequent along Charlotte during rush hours, I’d consider taking the bus. As it is now, the buses are infrequent, take forever to get downtown (or home) and often are not on time. All three of those problems need to be solved to make riding the bus a viable choice. Many of us do not have the option of saying “I’ll show up for work whenever and will arrive home at an undetermined time.”

  23. Mike G says

    I think just by adding a few more train times in the morning and evening would go a long way to getting more users.

    I myself would prefer to take the train, but my work hours are 9-6, which means I can’t really use the current system.

  24. Sonya says

    Also: More buses during rush hour (and in general). Now, if you miss your bus, you have to wait another hour. Buses should run every 7-10 minutes.

    • Melissa says

      I agree. My shift with Metro govt ends at 4pm. I’d love to get home at a reasonable hour, and beat some of the BAD traffic in Southeast Nashville…OR stay downtown for dinner, and then ride home….but my leg of the #12 (the Hickory Plaza) leg runs once an hour. I basically have two buses

      A 4pm end time gets me home at 5:20, in theory. In reality, the Nolensville Rd route can be very backed up.

      The next available Hickory Plaza route would get me home at 6:15 at the earliest.

      I love riding the bus, but I give up an extra 30 minutes in the morning, and in the evenings, it can be an HOUR, to take the bus.

  25. Sonya says

    I live in East Nashville and would love to take the bus to evening events. I’m unable to do that now because the schedules don’t run late and/or you can’t rely on them.

    Same goes for Snow Days: Would love to take bus; however, I have been stranded several times while riding MTA during inclement weather when bus lines shut down and/or no shows (and/or when the driver decides to change the route) – without proper communication.

  26. Stephen McClure says

    Bus infrequency is a frequent reason I choose to drive during the week. Having to wait an hour before a next bus is WAY too long at the end of the day if I am traveling across town. A 10-15 minute frequency makes commuting by bus FAR more appealing. I believe this kind of service is also perfect for weekend evenings for cultural and dining activities downtown. Parking and traffic in the CBD is often bad and appears to just be getting worse. Taking the bus takes that unknown variable out of the equation.

  27. Richard Weintraut says

    Later times on weekends for major routes.

    I would attend many more events downtown during the weekends if I was assured of having bus transportation home.

    10:15pm just does not allow enough time to attend the event, and still have time to make it to Music City Central or your bus stop.

  28. Hans-Willi Honegger says

    Here is an example from European cities: Starting at 6 AM public transport runs every 7-10 min to slow down during the day to 15 min sequence and then to 10 min during evening rush hour. Most buses, metro, trams run every 1/2h from 8 – midnight.
    This is probably not achievable yet in Nashville but should be set at a goal. E.g. at weekends when the Symphony, sports and other entertainment are performing increase transport service between 10 and 11 PM to a 15 min sequence and guarantee connectivity between different lines.

  29. Jack Waddey says

    Make the service free for the first 2 months; people will try it then and once they see that it works, they will become paying customers, provided the service is on time, inexpensive, regular, frequent, and pervasive in our city.

  30. Ann says

    I live off West End Ave and would dearly love to be able to take the bus downtown on the weekends to avoid the hassle of parking for a concert, etc. Right now I cannot depend on the bus to get home as they do not run frequently enough.

  31. George Mitchell says

    I tend not to use transit in the morning because I want to be downtown earlier than I can get here via MTA. If the bus started running earlier I would use it both morning and evening and if it ran later in the evening I would also use it to go to evening entertaining to avoid parking.

  32. janice says

    Transit used to be on Morrow rd. to Croly drive, it really needs to come back since the population is truly expanding in the West Nashville area especially in the nations. and it should run from 6:00 am to 1:00am

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