March against discrimination, for better transit service

Dozens of protesters and supporters marched the streets of downtown Nashville to raise awareness of an issue that has been affecting residents and transit riders, and calling on the mayor and city leaders to address the issue and find solutions to fix the problem on June 6.

The march, led by the group Music City Riders United, started their march at the Music City Center and ended at the Nashville/Davidson County Courthouse where the Metro Nashville Council had its meeting.

According to the group in a press release, the goal of the march was to call on the Metro Nashville City Council and Mayor Megan Barry to address the public transit problems affecting many Nashville residents and to raise awareness about the discrimination transit riders in the North Nashville area are facing. Mayor Barry announced in her State of Metro Address on April 27 that she was calling for increases in mass transit funding. MCRU, in a press release statement, said they agreed with the mayor’s and Metropolitan Transit Authority’s budget proposals, which included eliminating transfer fees and the expansion of free bus service from Jefferson Street to Tennessee State University.

The problem, according to MCRU, is that neither the mayor’s budget or the MTA’s budget called for specifically addressing the bus service to most of North Nashville, which included the Bordeaux route.

In 2016 the bus route to the Bordeaux area saw ridership on its #22 route increase by 322%, but the ridership on the Bordeaux route had 113,700 people ride the #22 bus, despite the level of weekend service. According to MCRU, the top 10 bus lines in Nashville go to all of its stops on Sundays, while the Bordeaux bus goes to 58% of its bus stops. According to statistics from the MTA Quarterly Performance Indicator, the Bordeaux bus route averages 113,700 riders per quarter while the Gulch/Downtown route averages 77,000 riders per quarter.

The study also states that the Bordeaux route is on time 81% of the time compared to the West End route at 97%.

Organizers and protesters have said they need better public transit services in Nashville to accommodate their transportation needs. Protest organizer Angelique Johnson said that people who want better transportation service in Nashville need to speak up and let their council member know how they feel about the issue.

She also said that for some families in the North Nashville area, the MTA bus service is their only form of transportation to get from their home to their job or to other places in Nashville. MCRU protester Kelvin Hendon said that he would like to see expanded bus service in Nashville.

“The #22 bus doesn’t get us to work on time, making us lose our jobs,” said Hendon. “And we need expanded service because short hours make it impossible for us to work a full shift on weekends and take the bus.”

Nashville resident Elijah Haynei said that while new buses help the rider experience, more service will be needed to help get the riders to anywhere in the city. He also argued that while Nashville residents work all hours, MTA buses should be doing the same thing.