New Public Transit Numbers Fuel AMP Debate
by Jason Lamb
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – New numbers show public transit rides are down across much of Tennessee, even as they're reaching all-time highs nationwide. Those numbers are now fueling both sides in the debate over Nashville's controversial AMP project.
According to the American Public Transportation Association, statewide public transit usage dropped, including a big drop with the music city star of more than five percent.
But MTA bus rides were up slightly - about 1.7 percent.
AMP supporters say the numbers show that Nashville is ready for the AMP Bus Rapid Transit system. "That reinforces what we see regularly; there are 10 million trips on MTA busses every year, so this is definitely the right time to put a new system in place," said Holly McCall, a spokesperson for the proposed project.
Opponents of the plan say such a minimal ridership increase doesn't justify what the AMP would do to traffic by taking up dedicated lanes along its route including West End.
"I think they could get more people to ride the bus on a regular basis city wide if they could improve bus service in all parts of the city, and not put a project in that impedes traffic on a major thoroughfare," said Lee Beaman, owner of the Beaman car dealership on West End.
On Wednesday, committees in the house and senate will be taking up bills that would ban center traffic lanes to be used for mass transit.
Passage of those bills could effectively kill the AMP project under its current plan.