MTA/RTA Service Improvement Strategies Overview

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This report gives an overview of the options that Nashville MTA/RTA will have to choose from to make improvements to the transit system. The opportunities presented in this document are not intended to represent an all-inclusive list of possible improvements; instead, they are an initial look at those that could provide the highest value for Nashville MTA and RTA of Middle Tennessee.

What do you think?  What strategies should Nashville MTA/RTA consider?  Which strategies should be Nashville MTA/RTA priorities? Please share your thoughts on the MTA/RTA Service Improvement Strategies report with us below.


  1. Frances Corzine says

    Are there any plans to add a feature to existing bus service that would make it possible to see buses coming on computers and phones? Knowing when a bus would be on time or late would make it easier for riders to use the service without wasting time.

  2. laurie handshu says

    Much of the rush hour(s) congestion is from traffic coming to and from workers not living in Davidson County.
    If the State and Metro could stagger work schedules for those individuals living outside the county, this would help ease the congestion.
    Live in Nashville/Davidson County, you have a commute during your regular schedule be it 8-5 or 9-6.
    Outside of Nashville/Davidson County, your work schedule is adjusted to avoid peak commute times…..say 7-4 or 9-6.

  3. leona schauble says

    Public transit into and out of Nashville is unlikely to work unless there is also some way to move people around WITHIN Nashville once they arrive. Even areas within a couple of miles of downtown are entirely unserved, and levels of service are insufficiently frequent for people to be able to depend on them. We will never increase ridership until people can get to where they need to go (without needing to walk as far as the bus ride to get to a stop that is served) and move on to the next stop reliably within 20-30 minutes at the outside.

  4. Jeremy Shupe says

    I will continue to post these facts until i am either shown to be incorrect or we get some trains. (in 2011, Nashville had around 609,000 people. Atlanta started building the rail portion of its MARTA system in 1975, when the city’s population was around 460,000. The 13 county Nashville metro area contained about 1.75M people in 2010. The Atlanta area contained just under 2M people in 1975.)

    The point: Atlanta’s system is behind the curve, which makes us way behind the curve. It is time to lay some rails.

  5. Mark Moffatt says

    No matter what steps are taken, the underlying issue is how to convince the “rest” of the Nashville population that public transit isn’t just for the working poor.

  6. Sandra says

    If increasing frequency is one of the critical service improvement strategies, why is MTA doing the exact opposite on some of its routes in the most recent service adjustments? Every 40 minute service has happened to two bus routes I depend on – it is a poor level of service, and you are shooting yourself in the foot by having this vision but then not walking that the talk. If you adjust them back to being every 30 minutes it will look like progress but it really won’t be, you will just be back to where you are started. Where is the accountability?????

  7. michael philp says

    Busses that only run Monday to Friday is ridiculous,people also need to get to work on Saturday and Sunday…the 27 route is a prime example…this is supposed to be mass transit…not only on certain days transit

  8. Andy says

    I’m very interested in finding ways to relieve freeway congestion. Might freeway BRTs with service to key employment areas – such as Cool Springs, downtown and metro center work? Would major employers consider providing last mile service to get people to their offices? I love rail (ride the Star often) but BRT seems like the only quick solution to our overloaded freeways.

  9. John says

    I like the idea of hybrid “trolley style” buses to be used in the downtown area. They are smaller than lightly filled full sized buses, fit in tighter spaces and have a certain character that would fit in nicely in downtown, plus they cost less to buy, and electric overhead cables or rails are not needed. Routes can be changed easily when needed. I’ve seen some really nice looking “trolleys”, similar to the “trolley” that’s in use in Franklin, TN. They must look like a “trolley car” not ugly yellow little buses like we see now.

  10. says

    More public transit is needed in the areas of Fairview, Lyles, Centerville, etc. This could be implemented through an extension of the existing West End Bellevue service along Highway 100, in much the same manner as the recent implementation of service to Dickson.

    Also, a re-examination and re-evaluation of the former West End Belle Meade route, I feel, would be worthwhile, as it would provide greater access to such facilities as the newly-expanded Warner Parks and Cheekwood and the Highlands of Belle Meade district.

    There was also one minor flaw in the text regarding access to fare and schedule information. In one paragraph, the text stated that older riders would be comfortable finding information on a website, when in fact the context of that same paragraph made it clear that many older riders WOULD NOT be comfortable finding information on a website, but would prefer telephone and printed information!

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  11. Frederick Smith says

    You also need to build a downtown circulator that’s serious an that works. Pooling the Green buses with other routs during certain hours of the day, for the sake of better utilization of equipment, is a bad logistic, because it casts a perception of confusion that the service is not dedicated.

    More serious than “stray” green buses throughout the city, MTA should strongly consider (without jumping to conclusion of not being viable) a network of overhead-electric trolley-coach buses to replace the diesel-hybrids, and instead of opting for “autonomous” electric buses (on-board stored power), as used in Chattanooga. The primary reason is that, in an a central business district with high levels of activity throughout most of the day, trolley buses provide that sense of permanence, that main element of induced perception of a defined and bounded infrastructure. In the case of trolley-buses, that infrastructure is in the form overhead suspended electric cabling, including all switchwork needed for route branches.

    With the many and constantly changing detours in downtown, and within its peripheral areas, the trolley-bus as a short-route circulator eliminates the need for the critical laying of rails, special trackwork, and the associated handling of utilities below the street (such as for electrical grounding). The cabling also can be easily installed and temporarily abandoned to accommodate the ongoing and evolving detours afflicting the area. There does exist a sufficient amount of land available (including the downtown and east-bank areas) to support building a small maintenance facility within proximity of the circulator service district.

    In time perhaps, as in other cities like Portland OR, rails could be laid for streetcar or even for light-rail to serve compositely as urban light-rail and commuter-rail (as with Portland’s Tri-Met MAX) to connect the surface streets of downtown town with near outlying areas (as with Beaverton, Gresham, and PDX airport in the Portland area). But in the near future, a trolley-bus downtown circulator, which provides constant and unabashed visibility of its presence, would serve Nashville’s downtown tourist, urban dwellers, and employees far more effectively than the current provision does. Also, the detours on the current set-up have resulted in a lousy handling of informing riders of such change in service. All bus stops currently not being served as a result of detours, have been found not marked as such, and the signage needs to be made professional, in the form of a professionally typeset placard, rather that the tacky hand-written labels frequently seen on other route stops. I even missed the purple-curculator because no detour sign with directions was provided at the Riverfront turnaround nor at Union Street stop.

    • robert stein says

      Cable trolley cars is just unacceptable aesthetically– putting in the cable system that is 100 years old is like digging up underground utilities and putting in poles instead– anyone up for that?? Try getting buses that come on frequent and regular schedules to stops that are well marked. See what your real utilization becomes and then see where more ambitious mass transit needs to be.– light rail, express buses or other options.

      • Frederick Smith says

        Obviously , you haven’t been to downtown Seattle lately. It’s network of trolley-buses (a.k.a “trolley-coaches”) have performed excellently for a city of that size and layout. They aren’t limited to downtown, and they have worked very well along with the fleet of diesel and diesel-hybrid buses.

        Also, it’s not a matter of aesthetics, inasmuch as you’re going to have overhead cables or wires even with streetcars and light-rail, and any such higher-capacity and electric system comes with the wires or cables overhead (either straight, plain wires or true catenary), all suspended via poles or even attached to existing buildings, as in parts of downtown Seattle. With light-rail and with streetcar, you still get the wires and the tracks, which can be construed as unattractive at worst, but not unacceptable.

        Again, the overhead wires of a trackless trolley provide the needed sense of permanence that tends to confer reliability. We’re talking about downtown service period, whether dedicated as a central business district circulator, or, in the instance in Portland OR, modern streetcars serve as connectors of “near” core urban districts, while crossing route paths in the downtown area. The only reason suggesting trolley-buses was for the sake of being a less expensive alternative to streetcars in the downtown areas of buried utilities, an issue which would need to be addressed with embedded tracks and the need for isolated electrical groundings with existing utilities. That being said, then we might as well go with streetcars and prepare properly for the future, since people have aversions to buses in general.

  12. Stephen Graham-Ching says

    We need light rail and commuter rail. More vehicles on already over-crowded streets it not going to help enough.