Report: Nashville fourth worst for seniors accessing mass transit

Tuesday, September 13, 2011 at 2:37pm
Staff reports

A recently released report regarding mass transit for seniors shows Nashville ranking as the fourth worst U.S. city with a metropolitan population of 1 million or more.

Commissioned by Transportation for America and titled “Aging in Place, Stuck without Options,” the report shows that Nashville’s percentage of citizens aged 65 to 79 and with poor mass transit access projects to be 85 percent in 2015.

Only Atlanta, Kansas City and Oklahoma City project to have higher percentages. Raleigh-Durham, N.C., ranks No. 5, with a projected 80 percent of its seniors expected to have poor access to mass transit by 2015.

“Aging in Place, Stuck without Options” determined that in a majority of metro areas with 1 million or more people, more than half of all seniors aged 65 to 79 will have poor access to mass transit in 2015. “Poor access” was defined as a metro area having fewer than two bus, rail or ferry routes within walking distance of any citizen.

Washington, D.C.-based Transportation for America, a coalition that promotes transportation infrastructure investment, predicts the number of senior citizens with poor access to mass transit will increase 35 percent between 2000 and 2015 in the nation’s major metropolitan areas.  

28 Comments on this post:

By: catenarykat on 9/13/11 at 2:04

Living on one bus route doesn't count in this study? According to this, the route could run by my front door to Music City Central, and I'd have "poor access."
Also, what about MTA's AccessRide, which does not have set routes but serves seniors and disabled? That's a huge service, I think. It is door-to-door service. The article references only fixed bus routes and requires two of them per "well-served" person, at that.
I'm all for more transit service, but this study doesn't seem to evaluate our situation very well.

By: ancienthighway on 9/14/11 at 5:33

About AccessRide:

Standard bus fare $1.60
Over 65 bus fare $0.80
AccessRide fare $3.20

The AccessRide passenger needs to meet eligibility requirements also. Not living on a bus line doesn't not satisfy eligibility requirements.

The further out from the city center you go, the further apart the bus stops get. In Hermitage, where I live, My walk to a bus stop would be two miles on the shoulder of the road because there aren't many sidewalks between my home and the bus stop. The bus runs are limited between the rush hours with waits of close to 2 hours if you miss the bus you wanted. There is no service between the end of the evening rush hour and the start of the morning rush hour. Hermitage isn't alone in having limited bus service. By the way, out side of Friday, the Music City Star stops service with the end of the evening rush hour also. On Friday, you have to be on the 10:30 PM train to get home.

Yes, mass transit in the Nashville Metropolitan Area is poor.

By: caluttc on 9/14/11 at 6:44

The media is supporting the current admin. and hospotality industry calling for growth and transit. Nashville's poor ranking could be explained because Nashville's inclusion of the entire county means low density. A requirement of transit is high density---which explains the current effort for growth---high density growth. If the city wants transit, then we must get big and dense like the huge cities we are becoming.

By: tardistraveler on 9/14/11 at 8:06

Mass transit here stinks unless you live pretty close to downtown, and even then you have to route THROUGH downtown to get anywhere else, even somewhere on your own side of town.

I live about a mile walk uphill from the nearest bus stop, and on weekends/holidays it's even further. And forget about snow routes - I'd have to walk all the way to Gallatin Road!

Access Ride is only available if you have a disability that prevents you from getting to or navigating a regular bus. You have to have a doctor's statement along with your application certifying your disability and why it makes you unable to ride a regular bus. So, that's not an option for everyone. Plus, it costs a lot more than a regular bus as well.

I've always thought a good solution would be neighborhood circulators, where you could pick up a bus near your home, and then transfer to other routes adjacent to yours to get to your ultimate destination.

By: san r on 9/14/11 at 9:19

someone said, "you get what you vote for".

By: macjedi on 9/14/11 at 11:28

Nashville is usually burdened by tons of small-minded sticks in the mud, so this report is not shocking. Still pathetic. We need to have great transit accessible by ALL and get some of these damn cars off the road. We lead in cars on the road, and that's just perverse. And with seniors, they CERTAINLY need a way to stay out of danger or causing more of it...

By: JeffF on 9/14/11 at 12:40

Those old people better start moving to downtown or start dressing like tourists or this mayor will not give a damn. The areas outside of downtown only exists to provide revenue for more downtown projects. The downtown bus terminal and the "of course it will need to be in downtown" rail and trolley lines leave no room for the majority of Nashvillians who do not live, work, or entertain themselves in Castle Deaniac.

By: govskeptic on 9/15/11 at 6:41

For some odd reason these studies, surveys, or rankings always seems
to come out just where and when the Administrations needs them to
arrive. The bonus is they always seem to conclude just the facts that are
needed at the moment as well! Odd, coincidence, or selective searching?

By: MusicCity615 on 9/15/11 at 8:05


Give it a rest. Your logic does not make sense.

Does everyone work in downtown? No.

Is there another place in Davidson County that has a more consolidated work environment that the Downtown, West End, Vanderbilt, Belmont area? NO

Does ALL of Nashville need mass transit? YES. However your dream of having a connection from areas such as Belmont to Green Hills, or Antioch to Opryland (you name it...) can be fulfilled with bus routes, and the more urban mass transit options (light rail / streetcar) in downtown can be fulfilled with lightrail and streetcar.

I want all forms of mass transit for ALL of Nashville. Why don't you?

By: on 9/15/11 at 8:35

This is such tripe, there is NO widespread demand for mass transit. Just more seeds for Dean to throw out to see what might sprout so he can raise taxes and spend money. Once more macjedi, not content with the a$$ whipping he and his got with the fairgrounds goes against the flow. You will get rid of our cars when they pry your cold dead body out from under one of them. In the meantime tell your elastic pants wearing buddies to obey all the traffic laws. Go to lunch when you want to, go home when you want to, be free, live free. Cars rule! All hail the power and freedom of a car.

By: Kosh III on 9/15/11 at 8:49

We do not need rail; it is very expensive, requires years to implement, will snarl traffic for years and is inflexible when needs change.
We need buses. More buses, more routes more often.

By: Kosh III on 9/15/11 at 8:50

Atlanta has rail. Anyone think that it has lessened traffic?

By: MusicCity615 on 9/15/11 at 9:00

Judyboodo- Please name when Dean has raised taxes....

Kosh- Buses wait in traffic just like cars, and pollute the environment

Please build Lightrail and streetcars for Nashville

By: MusicCity615 on 9/15/11 at 9:12


Implementing mass transit does not take away your car...

By: JeffF on 9/15/11 at 9:34

Burning money on light rail, particularly in the sparsely populated downtown "core" does nothing to solve the transit issues of this group or any Nashvillians. Rail, trolleys, and streetcars are the answer to two questions, "what do we put on postcards?" and "what can we brag about to the other cities?".

Buses are the only answer to connecting real Nashvillians together. Unfortunately transit proponents have turned the bus system in Nashville into a guaranteed failure by pointing the fronts and rears of the vehicles toward downtown. You can get anywhere in Nashville as long as you are willing to spend an extra hour going to downtown and another 30 minutes to an hour getting back out.

I do not want all forms of transit in Nashville, I just want the ones that work at serving all of Nashville's people FIRST. The needs of tourists, downtown bar revelers, and people who get "stimulated" by trains and 19th century transit technologies comes last.

By: slzy on 9/15/11 at 9:52

will this "mass transit" take seniors to the grocery and doctors office?

did'nt some firm tell lies or misrepresent the the convention center or send articles to the papers?

when the convention center becomes untenable maybe the seniors can live in it and be near to mass transit.

By: MusicCity615 on 9/15/11 at 10:16


Please answer my question. I'm still waiting for you to tell me where this unknown area in Nashville that as a whole has more jobs, housing, hospitals, Universities, Schools, and entertainment venues, and the best opportunity for increased jobs and housing than Downtown Nashville.

Have you or Kosh ever tried to get anywhere on a bus? it takes forever for everyone to one by one pay the fee (only one entrance into the bus), buses cannot hold as many people as a train, and buses get stuck in traffic just like every other car. Don't forget about pollution too.

You say lightrail "burns" money? Please tell me when the last time a road / highway / interstate has ever "paid" for itself? Talk about not only burning money, buses burn fuel and the environment to create the roads they use.

Please answer my questions. Don't use your hatred of downtown and type out "buses are the only answer"

Please build lightrail and streetcars.

By: JeffF on 9/15/11 at 12:08

The 95% of Nashville not in downtown is the area that has more current and potential residents, jobs, entertainment, and life. does this 95% of Nashville get the same ratio of transportation effort and funding. If your little world, being overblown in importance is a good reason to spend even more of everyone else's resources on it?

Tell you what, answer this question? If you committed no more public money to the puffy, self-important urban core and did the same thing for the rest of Nashville, which one would eventually thrive and which one would ghost town? A logical person would take the answer to that question as a clue toward which area is a waste of finite resources.

American liberal policy since Johnson and FDR and the subsequent death of the rust belt and river cities their acolytes control should indicate the ignorance of investing in failure as opposed success. Downtown is a failure propped up by the resources of others who are succeeding at life elsewhere. Now that those places are deserving of services they are paying for, we instead fight over sending those resources to a place that has and will never be able to do it for themselves?

These are neighborhoods just like every other neighborhood. They all deserve to be treated fairly and have access to government and cultural service. It is sad that you would deny services to the overwhelming majority of us who guilty only of living our lives outside of the downtown loop.

Why continue your war to make downtown richer on the abused backs of the peasants living outside the castle walls of downtown? Why do you hate the people who live in Nashville's neighborhoods? Why do you want to take their money and give it to the downtown lords and ladies? Are you not a people person? Do you substitute light rail for the lack of human kindness? What is about 19th century technology that make you want to be mean to the people of Nashville?

By: MusicCity615 on 9/15/11 at 12:39


You have some serious problems, anger being one of many, and you know it.

It is hilarious have you purposely disregarded my comments above stating that I wanted ALL possible mass transit options for ALL of Nashville (you said you did not want that...) and then redirected for rhetorical purposes to question if "I hate people" not in downtown? HAHAHA

You have some sad traits about you, getting furious when people disagree with you and then, in desperation, accuse me of hating people. Sad, and you know it.

I wonder if you would ever get out from behind the safety of your home and tell the 40,000 people who work in the downtown area to their face that you don't think they have a "real" job....

By: JeffF on 9/15/11 at 1:24

I can honestly say I was smiling while I typed all that so anger was not a cause. People who sense anger are probably themselves angry and overly sensitive or defensive.

It is hard to be for transportation for all of Nashville while backing the most expensive and resource abusive modal.

It would be easier to congratulate the 655,000 Nashvillians and 225,000 other
Middle Tennesseans who do not work in downtown. They are doing a great job and they deserve more than what rail transportation zealots are proposing to help just the small, very small, painfully tiny 40,000 castle dwellers.

By: MusicCity615 on 9/15/11 at 2:21

JeffF, again, please read. Take your anger, or "smiling", out before you respond.

Please show me where I said only those who work in downtown should receive mass transit options. You can't because I never said that and I am not for that. I did say that I am for all of Nashville having the appropriate mass transit options, you disagreed...

What I did ask is to please show me where in Nashville there is a bigger consolidation of jobs, venues, housing, hospitals, schools, and entertainment venues than in the downtown / midtown area. You cannot name one because there is not one. There is already a bus service downtown. It is inefficient. Therefore I am in favor of a lightrail system which is currently under review.

I am also for a bus system to connect ALL of the rest of Nashville. A lightrail system connecting ALL of Nashville is too expensive, therefore I want a mixture of lightrail in the most urban parts of Nashville (i.e. downtown and midtown), and bus routes to connect the rest of Nashville.

On a different note, I highly suggest you not go into litigation because your poor propaganda techniques are pitiful, and if you already are in litigation, I feel sorry for your clients....

By: JeffF on 9/15/11 at 2:23

Back to the premise of the story, how does spending millions on an inflexible rail, streetcar, or trolley line for an overwhelming minority of Nashville's workforce in the downtown and West End areas help the elderly? This report already identifies the problem as being no lines within a safe walking distance from the homes of most of the city's elderly. Even if one of the hellbent-for-downtown buses came close to their homes it still wouldn't help the elderly with their needs of getting groceries, visiting their doctor, or picking up prescriptions from their pharmacy. (But man can they ever hit the Wild Horse for some line dancing when the mood arises)

Curious how some cities are providing transportation services that do help people like the elderly all over their geographic areas while other cities view essential transportation services as a downtown redevelopment opportunity.

By: JeffF on 9/15/11 at 2:41

you are working under the assumption that a rail system for a tiny, almost postage stamp part of our are will not eat up a large amount of the funds available for all of our transportation needs. The key word is "appropriate". In 100% of all cases in our area the appropriate modal is buses. There is not a situation in Nashville where rail/trolley/streetcar will be the most effective and efficient method. Combine that with the huge expense and inability to change the route to reflect realities and you have a modal that looks good for the postcards and the history nuts, makes the Canadian company who made the equipment a lot of money, but does not improve the lives of just short of 100% of residents lives.

There is nothing that a light rail system can do in Nashville that buses can do. Buses can do it operationally cheaper and with less capital expense, can make changes on the fly in the event their route is blocked or unpopular, and can dispatch more equipment in the event of additional demand. Buses can even do it "greener' if done Chattanooga style with electric powered coaches. The only advantage of the fixed rail and streetcar modals is making many neourbanistas feel their city is chic and progressive. Do not spend tens of millions of dollars on a need that can be handled just as well or better by hundreds of thousands of dollars of unglamorous, unsexy, buses.

By: JeffF on 9/15/11 at 2:45

At this point Deano and his Deaniacs ares trying to come up with a system where our neighboring counties will contribute to the area's transportation needs. Good luck getting that money then using it to build a two mile long trolley or streetcar line between downtown and Vandy. The suburbs may request having the National Guard invade Davidson and take back their money.

By: JeffF on 9/15/11 at 2:47

I say that because the Deano trolley would not help most Davidson residents, it would be of no help to anyone in Sumner, Rutherford, Williamson, and Wilson counties.

By: MusicCity615 on 9/15/11 at 3:14

We'll agree to disagree on Mass transit, but we can agree that we both want Nashville to be great.

Not every city's citizens have the same zeal

By: JeffF on 9/15/11 at 3:50


By: Kosh III on 9/16/11 at 9:42


To answer your question, Yes, I do use the bus almost daily to get to and from work in downtown. The BRT which takes about 10 minutes longer than if I drove. I pay close attention to MTA and often participate in their public informational meetings.

However, cross-town travel is a different story. MTA would show you how the numbers don't add up. There are just not that many people in(eg) Donelson who need to go to Rivergate at any time of the day to make it feasible. Same for most cross town travel.
MTA does have a couple of routes which do not go downtown. One in Madison which DOES go past a senior citizen highrise, and one on the south side of town.

Buses can pollute less than they do now and an electric powered bus or even a street car would work, but NOT rail due to the expense and inflexibility.

Again, show me how much vehicular traffic has lessened in Atlanta since they began building rail??