MTA ask Nashville for 427% capital budget increase

The Metro Transit Authority asked Nashville Mayor Megan Barry for a 427 percent capital budget increase on Monday.

MTA CEO Steve Bland says this is an early step in making the $6 billion nMotion plan to improve transit over the next 25 years a reality.

“This is just sort of an opening entree if you will into that discussion,” Bland said.

The MTA asked the mayor for $10 million dollars more in next year’s operating budget, and $85 million more than its existing $20 million in its capital spending budget.

MTA discussed costs of replacing on-bus payment systems, which would cost about $11,000 a piece at the budget presentation. MTA outlines the pros and cons of the cash-less mass-transit, day passes and mobile pay, saying it would impact low-income riders. Tight now, MTA says about 40 percent of riders pay in cash.

The nMotion plan takes into account population growth over the next 25 years. It calls for more bus routes and rails.
“An underground would probably be a bigger undertaking and take longer so if there was a light rail I think that would be a really great option,” said Arianna Alonzo, who is visiting Nashville from San Francisco.

Other major capital request include: a new secondary bus hub south of Broadway to complement Music City Central, which is on the north part of downtown; an expanded bus fleet; several replacement buses, including new AccessRide vehicles; an expanded bus shelter; and a “rebranding initiative” for MTA.

Nearly half of the $10.2 million in additional operating budget requests — $4.5 million — are meant to cover 51 new positions to carry out new recommended short-term service initiatives outlined in nMotion. These include better real-time information on smart phones and elsewhere, new smart technology a single-fare system and extended service hours.

An additional $3.7 million would be earmarked for short-term initiatives to cover existing core bus services, which would involve 12 new positions.

MTA has outlined $2 million in additional operating dollars for existing bus service. nMotion’s recommendations for existing services include crosstown and through-city routes, improved AccessRide services and faster service in and through downtown.