Rep. Cooper isn't so sure federal money is going to be there for the bus rapid transit project Mayor Karl Dean wants to build. And there's a new opposition group.
“I think his view is that right now with sequestration going on, and until we strike some sort of grand bargain on the deficit, there’s just not a whole lot of extra money floating around out there for projects like this,” Hill said.
Metro public transit officials on Thursday unveiled their proposed name for the bus rapid transit line that is planned for the West End-East Nashville corridor and outlined their financing plans for the project. They see The Amp getting 43 percent of its $174 million in funding from the federal government, with the state providing for about 20 percent. And asked about community groups in North Nashville pressing for the line to cut through their community, Mayor Karl Dean said the dollars from D.C. would likely only come if the higher-density West End corridor is chosen.
The summary also highlighted BRT’s projected impact on traffic and travel times along the corridor. Projections included in the report showed that, in 10 years, an individual using BRT to travel from St. Thomas Hospital to Bridgestone Arena would arrive about twice as fast as someone travelling by car. Officials expect a ridership of more than 1.6 million in the first year of operation, based on ridership forecasts, and said that number is projected to grow to 2.5 million by 2022.
Click here to check out the full engineering and design analysis of the project.
A District Court jury on Friday ruled that Metro officials' imposition of a $45 minimum fare for "for-hire" transportation companies is legal. Metro Livery had accused Metro of unfairly protecting taxi companies but the case revealed that the minimum-fare language actually originated with the Tennessee Livery Association trade group and the company now known as Ryman Hospitality Properties. Attorneys for Metro Livery haven't said that they will appeal the decision, but it sure sounds like that's what will happen.
“This law was wrong when it was passed, it is wrong today and it’s going to continue to be wrong until it comes off the books,” said Wesley Hottot, attorney for the Institute for Justice. “Our clients are committed to continuing to provide folks with affordable transportation options in Nashville and we’re going to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them until they can continue in the business.”
The Megabus route from Nashville to Chicago (via Indianapolis) and from Chicago to Nashville attracted about 75,000 passengers during its first six months of operations.
Dale Moser, president and chief operations officer of megabus.com parent company Coach USA, said company officials are “delighted with the passenger response.”
The Nashville/Chicago route started March 14 and represents one of four Megabus routes servicing Nashville (each no more than one year in operation). The others are Nashville/Memphis, Nashville/Knoxville and Nashville/Chattanooga/Atlanta.
Moser said the company is pleased with the four but noted the Atlanta route could use some growth. He declined to note what number Megabus officials had as a goal for the Nashville/Indianapolis/Chicago route at the six-month mark.
“We look at it on a quarterly basis,” he said. “As long as we continue to see progress each quarter, we are pleased.”
Metro officials say they have decided to let pass a Sept. 14 deadline to apply for federal transit funding that would help build the planned bus rapid transit line from West End to East Nashville. Instead, they're now looking to get federal funding from a new law that kicks in Oct. 1. And while there's no firm timeline for when the feds will release guidelines for those interested in their cash, one official said the big-picture plan is still on track.
“We’ll still continue to move forward with our preliminary engineering for this project, and everything else,” said Jim McAteer, MTA’s director of planning and grants. “I don’t see it as being a major delay. We’re targeting the end of 2015.”
Metro Council members on Tuesday deferred action on a massive zoning update for much of Midtown. In doing so, writes Joey Garrison, they have put a big kink in the chances that Metro will land $75 million in federal cash to help fund a planned bus rapid transit line along the Broadway-West End corridor.
“I’m not saying that the federal grant won’t get approved now without that, but that would have given us additional points on our application, showing that we were creating a more dense environment around the BRT route,” Sloan said.
Which raises the question: Are many Nashvillians truly prepared for that "more dense environment?"