Nashville is ready to embrace transit

Nashville finally seems poised to do something about its car dependence.

Regional planners have put together a $6 billion transit expansion plan that calls for four light rail lines, three bus rapid transit routes, a commuter rail connection, and more. Meanwhile, a bill backed by Gov. Bill Haslam has been advancing in the statehouse to allow both a statewide gas tax increase and local transit referendums.

It looks like a referendum in Nashville would fare well. A survey conducted by Vanderbilt University found that by a two-to-one margin, Nashville residents support a small sales tax increase to pay for transit, reports Joey Garrison at the Tennessean: The poll found that 63% of Nashvillians would be willing to pay 25 cents more on sales tax for every $100 if the extra money went toward improving public transportation. Thirty-five percent said they would not be willing, while three percent said they either didn’t know or refused to answer.

An even higher percentage of respondents, 68%, said they would be willing to pay 50 cents in additional sales tax for every $100 they spent, compared with 30% who said they would not be willing.

Eighty-six percent of the poll’s respondents said they would support holding a citywide referendum that allows voters to decide whether Nashville should make more funding available for improving public transportation. Just 11% said they oppose a referendum.

John Geer, a political science professor at Vanderbilt who co-directed the poll, said the results indicate that dedicated funding for transit has momentum in Nashville.