Titans Game to screw up Thursday afternoon rush hour traffic

With a Tennessee Titans game scheduled for a 7:25 PM kickoff tomorrow at Nissan Stadium, authorities have decided to seal off some downtown streets and bridges at 4 PM.  The Woodland Street bridge will close at that time to everybody but pedestrians and shuttle buses (and, one presumes, bikes).  MTA buses that normally use that bridge are instead being redirected to the James Robertson Pkwy and Jefferson St bridges.

Additionally, the Korean Veterans bridge will close to car traffic heading into East Nashville as the game nears its end.  There are other MTA routes that will be on detour for (apparently) all day Thursday, but it’s not clear from the city’s press release what other streets will be closed.

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MTA keeps its promise to fix bus station bathroom

Two months ago, Music City Riders United (MCRU) posted a photo of the men’s bathroom at Music City Central, the downtown bus station.  The photo equated the vandalized restroom to the bathrooms at the old state prison, showing the missing stalls in both bathrooms.  The transit riders’ advocacy group’s photo caught the attention of MTA board members and a few local media outlets, and the MTA promised swift action.

Within a few weeks, Lamont Walters noticed that the MTA was putting up some temporary stalls in the men’s restroom:

Today, I went by and saw that the transit agency had completed its work, installing permanent stalls, hand soap dispensers, and new hot air hand dryers:

Men's bathroom at Music City Central

MCRU also reports that the MTA has promised cleaner bathrooms for both women and men.

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nMotion is now the official transit plan

nMotion, the far-reaching plan to expand transit throughout both Davidson County and its neighbors, has been adopted by the boards of both the MTA (local) and RTA (regional) boards.  The members of these boards both voted unanimously to go with the plan after a month of public input that saw almost a thousand comments come in.

“The adoption of this plan is the first step in building a meaningful and equitable public transit network that addresses the anticipated growth in Nashville and Middle Tennessee over the next 25 years,” said MTA Board Chair Gail Williams. “The plan identifies specific strategic actions Nashville and the region needs to take to begin working on the growing traffic and congestion. It is a historic day for public transit and the citizens in our community. Additionally my thanks to the many members of the community that engaged in this process to improve transit for all.”

In the near term, the MTA and RTA will begin simplifying their services through such steps as improved fare payment systems and a unified brand.

Earlier: MTA and RTA aim to increase ridership 430% with ambitious nMotion planNew Ideas for Transit: Right Now

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Clement Landport dealt final death blow

Earlier this week, Mayor Barry announced that she had inked a preliminary deal to sell the Clement Landport, an ill-fated transit project in SoBro.

The site of the landport, adjacent to Demonbreun St, Cummins Station, and CSX railroad tracks, will be sold to the owner of Cummins Station.  The land deal is just one part of a bigger agreement to create the necessary easements for a new pedestrian bridge over the tracks and to provide a capital infusion to the MTA.

The land was originally acquired by the MTA in 1995 with some help from then-Congressman Bob Clement.  They had grand plans for it: a multi-modal transit station, with bus bays, commuter rail (from the adjacent CSX tracks), light rail connections, and car parking were all part of the scheme.  Only two of those things ever came to that site (busses and cars), and only one of them really ever did well there (the cars).  The CSX tracks were too busy with freight traffic to accommodate any passenger trains, and Nashville is yet to see any light rail (at least, since it was torn up some decades ago).

In 1998, MTA opened the structure at Clement Landport.  The top level, which connected to the old Demonbreun St bridge, included bus bays, a ticket office, and a waiting shelter.  Ramps led down below to parking.  At one time, up to 15 different routes utilized the station.  But when, a few years later, the Demonbreun St bridge was declared structurally unsound and torn down to be replaced, the Clement Landport was left orphaned: the bridge had been the only way to access the landport structure.  The bridge was rebuilt in a few years, however, and the landport reconnected.  It still never did very well, and the buses stopped using the landport in 2012.

“The (commuter) trains have to come.  If they don’t, I’m not sure the landport will have much value,” former MTA CEO Paul Ballard told The Tennessean in 2005.

Now, the entire structure — top and bottom — is used for parking.  And the MTA knows it’s sitting on a valuable, underutilized piece of real estate: $8.4 million for the 3 acres.

Even as late as last fall, the MTA was still thinking about resurrecting the landport as a second downtown transit hub.  Even the new 25-year strategic transit plan, nMotion, intends to build a second bus station in the southern part of downtown.  But with this sale in process, it seems that the Clement Landport will not be the site of that bus hub.

In the deal worked out by Barry, the city government would purchase the land from the MTA, give the state and the city their 10% interests in the property, then sell it to the owner of Cummins Station for $7.56 million.  The bridge wouldn’t actually be built on the site of the landport, though.  Instead, it would have a landing on another part of Cummins Station’s property, for which the city will pay them $2.662 million.

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MTA’s EasyRide not so easy to set up

Several months ago, Stephen Yeargin tried to get his company set up with with Metro Transit Authority’s (MTA) EasyRide program.  This program allows employers to pay for their employees’ rides on public transit in and around Nashville.

Already, such large institutions as Vanderbilt, the state government, and Metro participate in EasyRide.  Employees from these institutions receive special MTA cards they tap on the fare box (or, in the case of Vanderbilt, swipe their Vanderbilt ID badges) when boarding a bus or the Music City Star.  But the program is actually available to any employer who wants to participate — though Mr. Yeargin discovered it’s more difficult to set up than it should be.

Earlier: Nashville MTA may get new fare payment system

It took him seven months to get EasyRide for his company.  He found that there’s practically no information on MTA’s website and that MTA required multiple letters of credit for his employer (a burden for small companies).  Many companies won’t bother jumping through all these hoops, he frets, when they should be trying to increase ridership through initiatives like this:

I believe the only barrier to more folks using EasyRide is the operational inefficiencies of signing up for the program. Signing up companies is the easiest way to grow ridership, and thereby improve transit in the region.

Moreover, the customer service representative he spoke to at Music City Central seemed to know little about EasyRide.  “I think that’s only for Vanderbilt and State employees,” the representative told him.

Mr. Yeargin made five recommendations for improving the the signup for EasyRide, from getting rid of a required in-person presentation to having fewer steps in the application process.

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MTA gets shamed about prison-like bathroom conditions, finally promises to fix the problem

Recently, Music City Riders United, a group of MTA riders working to improve the transit system, circulated a photo of the men’s bathroom at Music City Central:

Music City Central is MTA’s central bus station next to the state capitol.  Fox 17 is reporting that the MTA is promising to fix the problem only after being publicly shamed.

The bathroom has looked like this for weeks.  And there is usually no toilet paper available and no water in the sinks.

Later on, Music City Riders Union compared Music City Central’s restrooms to those of Riverfront Station, which serves the Music City Star commuter train:

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When Nashville had 25 streetcar lines

In 1937, local transportation planner Adams Carroll discovered that our city had 25 streetcar lines for just 200,000 people:

Now, there are over 600,000 people in Nashville (excluding other counties in the metro area) and zero streetcar lines.  By 2035, projections estimate that there will be over 7.5 thousand people in Davidson County, and nMotion’s plan is hoping to be opening up four streetcar or trolley lines around that time.

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Nashville Transit Triathalon

This morning, Mayor Barry and some very-committed community members boarded the bus to participate in the Nashville Transit Triathlon.  This is the only time I’ve ever seen the MTA allow people to bring bikes on board the bus (and a guy next to them who just doesn’t care):

After the leg on the 56, participants walked to the Five Points B-Cycle station, then rode bikes back towards East Park:

Earlier: Three of Nashville’s grand visions will be on display in Nashville Transit Triathlon this weekend

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Three of Nashville’s grand visions will be on display in Nashville Transit Triathlon this weekend

Nashville has three big plans for improvements around the city: nMotion, for public transit; WalknBike, for sidewalks and bikeways; and Plan to Play, for parks and greenways.  And Mayor Barry will be showcasing those three plans this Saturday at 11:15 AM as she travels East Nashville (and a little bit of downtown) using three different non-car modes.  She (and a whole bunch of other people) will start at Music City Central, riding the 11 AM route 56 to Five Points Station.  Then, she’ll hoof it over to the B-Cycle station a few blocks away, where she’ll check out a bike and ride it to East Park.

I should mention that there is no B-Cycle station at East Park, so how people are supposed to re-dock their rented bikes when they get there, I’m not sure (there are only two B-Cycle stations in the whole of East Nashville, aside from one at Titans Stadium).

The event at East Park runs from 11 to 1 and will feature a number of different displays, including the chance to comment on any of the three plans.  And, there’s free food.

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