Regional Transit Authority votes to adopt $6 billion nMotion transit plan

Fox 17

Adrian Mojica

UPDATE: The Regional Transit Authority board of directors has voted to adopt the nearly $6 billion nMotion plan. The MTA board will meet tomorrow at Music City Center at 2:30 p.m. and the public is invited to attend.

NASHVILLE, Tenn.–The Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority and Regional Transportation Authority of Middle Tennessee have released their 2016 nMotion transit plan recommendations.

The new plan, which focuses on expanding reach, access, speed and ease of transportation would increase operating costs for MTA/RTA from $83.2 million to $338.4 million. Capital spending through 2040 would total $5.97 billion.

Among the recommendations made are extending service areas and options to Montgomery, Sumner, Robertson, Rutherford, Dickson, Wilson, and Maury counties.

The report estimates changes could expand the number of regional residents served from 686k to 1.8 million and increase the number of regional jobs served from 109k to 808k.

The recommendations are as follows:

-Easier Service: The plan looks to create a single website for transit information with real-time information made available via apps and improved signage at bus stops. Paying methods would also be improved to create a “one-stop” shop for commuters where they could pay for transit, parking, rideshare, and bikeshare options.

-Improve Existing Services: Changes would include expanding service hours and making regional routes available seven days a week with all-day service. The network would start with more frequent local routes and “grow into a network” that includes rapid bus, Bus Rapid Transit, and eventually a Light Rail.

-Improve Access: Recommendations are to improve pedestrian access, make park-and-ride lots more conveniently located, and improve conditions for bicyclists to reach locations and get rides.

-Comfort: Improve amenities at all stations and stops, especially those which see heavier traffic. Transit vehicles would also offer Wi-fi for long distance services and overall “comfort levels.”

-Create a Network of Regional Transit Centers: Springfield, Goodlettsville, Hendersonville, Gallatin, Lebanon, Smyrna, LaVergne, Spring Hill, and Dickson would be areas targeted for development of new service and have regional centers added.

-Build a High-Capacity/Rapid Transit Network: The 25-year plan would look to expand commuter rail service, bus rapid transit, rapid bus, freeway bus rapid transit, and bus-on-shoulder service to already existing services.

-Improve airport service: Create multiple high-capacity and rapid service options such as express bus, light rail, and rapid bus services to the airport.

“There’s probably not one group that I speak to on a daily basis where traffic and transit don’t come up as part of that conversation,” Nashville Mayor Megan Barry said. “We have to get this done. We’ve had a great opportunity to study this with lots of great input from citizens, but now we have to start moving to create those transit options for folks.”

The existing system costs each person in the service area $67 dollars a year. The proposal requires an increase to $244 per capita, but transit board members say that transforming Middle Tennessee’s is essential.

“It’s always hard to sell a price tag, but that’s why I think it’s important that what we’re doing now is really showing the benefits. I think if people see the benefits they get, they focus more on what is good for them as opposed to exactly how much it costs,” Clarksville Mayor and RTA board president Kim McMillan said.

Both mayors say that state and federal funds will supplement local tax revenue.

“I think that combination will show that the investment will be worth the benefits that they will achieve,” McMillan said.