Nashville activist Walter Searcy spoke to Belmont students Monday about Nashville Mayor Megan Barry’s 15-year transit plan to improve transportation options throughout Nashville.
The plan includes bus improvements, a light rail, more sidewalks, safer intersections, neighborhood transit centers and a downtown tunnel.
Decrease in gridlock is one of the main incentives for the plan, Searcy said.
“Moving people more efficiently is what mass transit is all about,” he said.
Searcy showed a statistic saying more than eighty individuals move to Nashville per day.
“We need transportation options, so that more people doesn’t mean more gridlock,” explained Searcy.
One student asked about how the new plan would affect parking fees surrounding transit centers. Searcy responded that part of the plan involves incentivizing transit by providing free parking in those areas.
“For anybody who has to daily park in those areas, if your employer is not putting some additional ducats in your envelope, you’d rather ride a horse,” Searcy joked.
One more immediate aspect of the transit plan is expanding bus service hours from 5:15 a.m. through 1:15 a.m. and providing service that comes every fifteen minutes. This will be implemented by the fall of 2019, according to the transit plan.
He addressed the issue that part of the funding for this plan would come from an increased sales tax, which is a regressive tax that tends to affect people in the poorest areas. To offset that, the transit plan intends to provide free service for people at or below the poverty line.
The transit plan intends to increase walkability, provide jobs to the community and decrease gridlock and parking fees. Overall, Searcy hopes it will make transportation more effective and efficient in the next fifteen years.
Voting on this plan will occur in May 2018. Belmont students can vote in May or sign the petition on Transit for Nashville’s website.
This article written by Liz Gresser.