Nashville’s population, employment, and associated travel levels have grown much faster than the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s services, and the area’s demographics are changing in ways that will lead to an increased demand for transit solutions.
Passenger ridership and service levels have significantly increased over the past 10 years. Nashville MTA’s future success will require a much more aggressive approach in order to adequately address the region’s mobility needs.
These are the key findings in a new ‘State of the MTA System’ report, which is the first of a series of reports completed by Nelson/Nygaard, the lead consulting firm for the yearlong nMotion strategic planning process for Nashville MTA and Regional Transportation Authority of Middle Tennessee (RTA). A similar report on the state of the RTA system will be released in early August. This first report provides an overview of existing Nashville MTA transit services and an evaluation of how well these services match transit demand in Davidson County, both today and 20 years in the future.
Given the current level of funding available, Nashville MTA provides good, efficient service to areas most in need of transit services, but there are many areas that are underserved, according to the report. For service to be more convenient and to attract new riders who currently drive, it also needs to be more frequent and run for longer hours.
New growth will require higher service levels on existing routes, suggesting a demand for high capacity transit in many corridors. MTA needs to consider significantly expanding efforts to develop high-quality services, including light rail, bus rapid transit (BRT), rapid bus/BRT lite, streetcars and more.
Relatively little service operates frequently enough for most potential riders to consider service to be convenient, with only nine routes operating at least every 15 minutes on weekdays.
In addition, for a city where the economy is heavily reliant on service workers, few routes run late enough to accommodate later shifts. For those who rely on transit as their sole means of mobility, the limited frequency and spans of service restrict access to economic opportunity.
Projections of overall travel trends indicate that downtown Nashville will continue to be the focal point of the greatest number of trips in the area. However, to become more convenient, MTA will need to develop more cross town services to provide trips that don’t require going through downtown.
The Nashville MTA/RTA will be examining and seeking input on these and other specific strategies and opportunities in the coming months to incorporate into the final plan.
“Despite significant improvements over the past 10 years, Nashville’s transit service has not kept pace with the fast-paced growth of the city,” said Steve Bland, Nashville MTA/RTA CEO. “Our work has begun to identify a number of opportunities for improvements to our system. Over the coming months, we’re going to be asking for the public’s input on what to do next via online surveys and public forums.”
MTA/RTA continues to survey the public at community meetings and events as well as online to collect feedback for the plan. Visit