Bus riders, residents protest reduction of routes, services

People turn out for the weekly Metro Council meeting at the Davidson County Courthouse and City Hall to address the Metro budget.

Dozens of bus riders, along with supporters and other community residents, marched at a Nashville bus terminal to protest a plan that would reduce the number of bus routes and services that many people currently use at a rally on June 19.

The rally started at the Music City Central Bus Station at the corner of Fifth Ave. and Charlotte Ave. in downtown Nashville. The protest, organized by Music City Riders United and People’s Alliance for Transit, Housing, and Employment, marched to protest the potential cuts in bus routes and reduction in bus services that Metro Nashville residents depend on daily. During the rally, protesters spoke out about the effect cuts in routes and services would have on MTA bus riders and sent the message to the Metro Nashville City Council.

The protesters and their supporters were against an increase in bus fares. The protesters also addressed transit needs, including calling for a 10-minute departure frequency on the busiest bus routes and a 20-30 minute departure frequency on every other route.

Angelique Johnson, an organizer of Music City Riders United, said she attended the rally because she wanted to protest the cuts to bus service and was against MTA bringing back transfer fees MCRU worked hard to eliminate (a bus rider pays a fee and gets a free transfer on another bus). She said eliminating transfer fees would be beneficial to people who ride the buses. Johnson also said the Metro Council budget proposal could have a devastating effect on transportation in Nashville for people who rely on public transportation. The proposed budget could prevent people who are unable to afford their own form of transportation from getting around the city.

“We already have limited bus service as far as stopping and going from certain places at certain times,” said Johnson. “So if they do any more cutting, then we won’t be able to ride the bus at all.”

Steve Bland, CEO of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, said no services would have been reduced and fares would not have to be increased if the Council had approved the original budget. Bland said originally transfer fees were eliminated and that passengers could transfer to another MTA bus for free. When it comes to the bus route extension for Nashville areas such as Antioch, Madison, and Hermitage, Bland said the MTA had some of the busiest routes in Antioch, e.g., along Nolensville Pike; and in the Madison area along Gallatin Pike.

Bland said that if the Metro Council had approved its original budget, bus fares would have stayed the same.

He also said that any concern the riders had were addressed because MTA had added services and reduced bus fares.

After the rally, the protesters marched to the Metro Nashville City Hall where the Metro Council members debated the proposed budget.

According to the press release, MCRU called for the MTA to provide 24-hour bus service for Nashville’s residents.