“While walkability benefits from good transit, good transit relies absolutely on walkability.”
From One-Mile Radius- Building Community from the Core by Mark Deutschmann
With Metro Nashville Council’s recent approval of the “Let’s Move Nashville” transit referendum, our community has taken a giant leap towards addressing our immediate needs and investing in our future with a comprehensive transportation program.
This transit plan will make Nashville a more livable and walkable city. It will help support our urban greenway system and expand public transportation to all neighborhoods. A vote for transit is a vote for walkability for Nashville.
As community builders, we have an opportunity to collaborate and solve the transit problem to keep Nashville moving forward toward a more connected city.
I served on the Mayor’s Transit and Affordability Task Force collaborating with 21 other task force members. While diverse in backgrounds and the organizations we represented, we all worked toward the same goal: to explore sustainable ways to provide new housing and commerce opportunities along the transit corridors without displacing the residents and businesses that already call those places home.
Our group was guided by best practices for transit- and trail-oriented development, creative financing, building healthy places, affordable and workforce housing. We found consensus as we collaborated to recommend strategies to make Nashville’s planned high-capacity transit corridors functional, safe and inclusive for all. (You can read our report here: https://www.nashville.gov/News-Media/News-Article/ID/7128/Transit-and-Affordability-Taskforce-Presents-Final-Recommendations-to-Mayor-Megan-Barry.aspx)
The “Let’s Move Nashville” plan calls for a 14-year build out with minor and major changes that will benefit our city including:
- An increase in buses, frequency, routes and gradually transitioning to a completely electric, green bus fleet;
- Light rail train and rapid bus corridors;
- New park and rides;
- Downtown transit tunnel;
- Neighborhood transit centers; and
- Improved sidewalks, crosswalks and bike paths
I won’t go into all the details since you can read the full plan here: http://letsmovenashville.com/site/web/assets/2017/12/Nashville-Transit-Improvement-Program-20171213.pdf
The obvious benefit of the “Let’s Move Nashville” plan is that commute times and congestion are reduced with the diverse transit options. With more available and reliable transportation, including a fleet of fully electric buses, we’ll see fewer cars on the road. We will reap the benefits of cleaner air and a healthier environment. “Let’s Move Nashville” has the potential to make our city “the greenest city in the Southeast.”
Job creation and affordability are also benefits. Beginning with construction, this plan will employ a large number of Davidson County residents with good-paying positions – 3,850 jobs per year. The proposal also calls for all transportation fees to be eliminated for those living at or below the poverty level. Nashvillians currently spend $12,000 a year on transportation. The savings families will realize by using public transit options can be reallocated to housing, education, medical care or other needs.
As a lifelong walker, I’m also looking forward to the safer sidewalks, improved crosswalks, bike lanes and other safety measures spelled out in the transportation plan. Last year was the deadliest year for Nashville pedestrians, with 23 people killed. This exceeded the record in 2015 when 18 pedestrians lost their lives. While saving time and money for drivers, the plan will help save lives by providing basic infrastructure for those who navigate the city without a car.
As a strong advocate for our greenways and trail system, I’m most excited about the proposed neighborhood transit centers and the opportunity to link them to greenways, which are integral to a successful urban transit system. The centers will be convenient and safe locations for boarding and departing with real-time transit information. Additionally, they will anchor the park and ride and rideshare locations and encourage commerce and attainable housing development along the transit corridors.
“Let’s Move Nashville” provides a solution for traffic concerns in your one-mile radius and in mine. Join me at the polls on May 1 to cast your vote for a safe and reliable transportation system for our city. A vote for transit is a vote for a more livable, walkable city.