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TN Transit System Looks Toward Improvements

Nashville's Metro Transit Authority is looking over the next 25 years to add a light rail system like the one seen here in Dallas. (jefzila/
Nashville's Metro Transit Authority is looking over the next 25 years to add a light rail system like the one seen here in Dallas. (jefzila/
September 6, 2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Many Tennessee roads today are clogged with people returning to work from the Labor Day weekend.

Less prevalent on the roads are public buses and the appearance of light rails running parallel to major thoroughfares.

Cities such as Nashville are hoping to change that.

The Metro Transit Authority (MTA) in Nashville has released its regional transit plan that includes a $6 billion price tag over the next 25 years.

Michelle Estes, an organizer with the riders’ union Music City Riders United, says she hopes attention is paid to existing service.

"My issue is, ‘Why not take care of the buses first,’” she states. “If you can get them back in the way they used to be where you don't have to go all the way back downtown and then come back out on another bus, then maybe we can incorporate other plans that they want to bring in."

Among the largest projects proposed – a commuter rail connecting Nashville and Clarksville and light rail on four busy corridors in the capital city.

The MTA plan also includes plans to improve access for people with limited access to personal vehicles, expand the range of transportation options for Middle Tennessee and simplify the existing system.

It's estimated that more than 2 million people would benefit from the improvements.

Estes says thousands like her count on public transportation to travel to doctors' visits, grocery stores and work, and it's important the state keep up with demand.

"It helps us get around the big city and it helps us get to the other connections to other cities, and it makes it easier,” she states. “We won't have so much traffic on the interstates."

According to the MTA, the population of Middle Tennessee is expected to exceed 3 million by 2040, which is slightly larger than the Denver metro area is now, and a roughly 30 percent jump from where the numbers stand now.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - TN