Group says Metro bus routes aren't making the grade

Posted at 10:26 PM, Jan 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-10 21:42:57-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A survey revealed some WeGo Public Transit but routes aren't making the grade when it comes to routes in low income areas versus more affluent ones.

Supporters with Music City Riders United is asking city and state officials to earmark funding to make bus stops and routes safer in low income areas.

The group sent a survey to hundreds of drivers asking what their thoughts are when it comes to things like safety, hours of operations and bus safety.

Bus riders like A. Randolph said the Nashville bus routes need some serious changing.

“When I do have to cross the street that often gets difficult and dangerous,” said Randolph.

Nine bus routes received a letter grade not a single one received an A score. Randolph said in the end it all comes down to safety.

“Even when there is a crosswalk there's not always a light or something that tells the cars, 'hey there's someone here, and you need to stop' so they can get across the street,” he said.

Walk Bike Nashville also stated 12 of Nashville’s 25 bus stops are part of an impossible crossing.

The Music City Riders United surveyed showed that the West End Bellevue route got the highest grade with a B.

The lowest was a D plus which went to the Antioch Express route.

The report card showed routes in low income areas received scores of a C or lower. We were told that The highest scoring routes service several of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Nashville.

“Currently very wealthy communities on wealthy routes have an abundance of bus shelters and benches to protect people from the weather, that is not the case in our working class communities where people of color predominate,” said Sam Shaffer with Music City Riders United.

Supporters are now urging city and state officials to find the dollars to make bus stops safer in all areas -- especially where the ridership count is higher.

Shaffer said These issues demand urgent action from the Metro Council, WeGo, Metro Nashville Public Works, and the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

The group is proposing Metro Council to increased funding to expansion of bus service to 24 hours per day, increase bus frequency on weekends, and expand service hours and frequency in growing working-class neighborhoods outside the urban core.

They also want Metro Council increase funding to Public Works in the next fiscal budget cycle with funds specifically earmarked for building protected crosswalks at every bus stop, prioritizing the most dangerous stops in working-class and people of color neighborhoods.

NewsChannel 5 reached out to WeGo Public Transit about the findings of the survey. A spokesperson sent us the following statement:

“We are currently in the process of reviewing the report. Absent those details, we know that we share the view of MCRU that Nashville should have more and better bus service. We agree that there is room for improvement, but we would be remiss to not note that WeGo has worked hard over the past few years to implement many new projects and upgrades to the system in key areas of concern. Progress on those fronts include increasing the number of stops with bus shelters from 137 to 234, with more than half of those being installed in low-income and minority neighborhoods; improving frequency along the 22 Bordeaux route which serves the North Nashville neighborhood to 15 minutes during the day; and the reinstatement of free transfers to complete one-way trips requiring multiple bus routes. We have met with MCRU multiples times over the past year and look forward to continuing to work with them in the future on vital transit issues such as safety, equity, and access.”