Bus rapid transit 'lite' planned for Murfreesboro Pike

Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 1:05am

Metro officials have planned Nashville’s second installment of bus rapid transit “lite” to go along Murfreesboro Pike, with the faster, more efficient bus service perhaps coming to the southeastern Davidson County corridor by spring 2013.

“We see this as the right thing to do with the growth in our ridership there,” said Paul Ballard, CEO of the Metro Transit Authority.

MTA has proposed a $4.8 million capital plan to install a light version of BRT on Murfreesboro Pike, a transit approach that allows for fewer stops and speedier trips than traditional bus routes. Unlike more sophisticated BRT models, buses don’t occupy exclusive lanes of traffics under this concept, but BRT lite does include other amenities such as superior bus shelters and fuel-efficient hybrid buses.

The Murfreesboro Pike proposal comes three years after Dean kicked off BRT lite in Davidson County on East Nashville’s Gallatin Pike, a 12-mile stretch from downtown’s Music City Central to RiverGate Mall. Since its inception, bus ridership along Gallatin Pike has increased from 80,000 trips per month to 115,000.

“Murfreesboro Road really is a similar candidate for that precise type of service because it’s a long route, and the ridership there has been growing,” Ballad told The City Paper. “It just seems like the ideal candidate to speed up the service and improve the bus stops. It’s just a natural.”

BRT along Murfreesboro Pike would stretch from downtown to the Antioch area near Hickory Hollow Mall. MTA officials hope to begin the new service in April 2013 and begin constructing the new infrastructure that summer, but the plan is contingent on funding in Mayor Karl Dean’s upcoming budget.

The mayor is set to unveil a proposed operating budget and capital-spending plan for the 2012-13 fiscal year at his “State of Metro” address on May 1. Though Dean hasn’t revealed all his capital plans, he had positive things to say about BRT on Murfreesboro Pike at his budget hearing with MTA officials last month.

“The Murfreesboro BRT project, another benefit of that would be that it’s an investment in the Antioch area, the Hickory Hollow area,” Dean said at the hearing, referring to the rapid growth of southeast Davidson County. “That would be a good, positive statement there.”

If funding were allocated, Ballard said MTA officials would begin identifying boarding points along Murfreesboro Pike this summer. Ballard said the monthly ridership on Murfreesboro Pike currently totals 71,000.

“We feel that if we do that right, the same way we did Gallatin, we can bring that up to 100,000 trips a month,” Ballard said.

As Metro considers doubling down on BRT lite, Dean has also said he hopes to move forward on a more ambitious, full-scale BRT system along the so-called east-west connector from West End, down Broadway, across the Cumberland River to East Nashville.

The project is estimated to cost $136 million. Funding hasn’t been set aside.

8 Comments on this post:

By: spooky24 on 4/24/12 at 4:27

Dean's policy of borrow and spend continues. The cities outstanding debt is well over 600 million adding another subsidized wasteful project.
Just like Washington borrow it, spend it, forget it as it's someone else problem now.


By: Rocket99 on 4/24/12 at 7:21

Unlike spooky24, I see this as a good thing, especially for the Antioch area. Personally, I think it should run down Murfreesboro Rd to at least the county line.

This part of the county is becoming the fastest growing area in Metro. Without something like the BRT Lite and hopefully, lite rail in the very near future, the traffic will be worse than Rivergate ever was.

By: MusicCity615 on 4/24/12 at 7:45

Spooky24- I agree that washington spends way too much, but investing in transportation is the smart approach for our nation, especially when we are so dependant on foreign oil.

Thinking we can grow as a nation and still all use the 1 person per car, spend billions on new roads and improving existing roads... that's the biggest boondoggle I can think of.

By: Kosh III on 4/24/12 at 8:26

This is great and yes, it should extend further out. I regularly use the Gallatin Rd BRT and it's great.
More buses more often on more routes.

By: JeffF on 4/24/12 at 8:28

I am all for BRT, especially on lines such as this. This could be a great time to build a network off these BRTs that will allow buses not on the BRT routes to spiderweb across Metro. Right now all buses head to downtown when in reality only the primaries should.

I did find amusement that Dean waited to identify that there even is an Antioch or Southeastern Davidson County until his 2nd term. Of course his "investment" is an item designed to get the people into and out of the neighborhood he really does focus on.

By: GrantHammond on 4/24/12 at 1:29

I still want to see what these vehicles look like. There is absolutely nothing sexy or romantic about riding a bus. This BRT system needs to look like a train, act like a train and feel like a train.

By: MusicCity615 on 4/24/12 at 4:03

agree GrantHammond.

By: Kosh III on 4/25/12 at 5:53

I'd prefer transportation that is comfortable convenient and inexpensive, not sexy and romantic--that's absurb. If you want romance then take your boy/'girlfriend and go walk in the park.
More buses on more routes more often.