Professor's Report Shows Alternative Transit, Not Light Rail, Is Right For Nashville

Posted at 7:46 PM, Sep 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-26 21:04:45-04

An associate professor of economics from Vanderbilt University has released a report that shows alternative options to light rail in Music City.

In the 12 page report, Malcolm Getz lists numerous reasons why light rail is too expensive and inefficient compared to a number of other transit options. 

"It's an expensive strategy. It's not a particularly forward thinking strategy. It reduces traffic flows on streets," said Getz. Traffic flow will be slowed around intersections of roadways and the light rail, Getz said. He said in a time where ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber are becoming more advanced, it would be more valuable to have express lanes and increased bus service.

In his study, he cites experiences from other cities with light rail. Saying Denver's rail has seen below expected ridership and success from express lanes there.

He said one of the reasons why light rail is inferior is that the cost is higher than buses and car services. Light rail can't put people as close to their destinations as the other options.

"People are riding buses or cars to the train, transferring to the train to downtown, transferring to a bus, transferring to something else to complete their journey," Getz said. "It's the complexity and the transfers and the overlays and the layovers that makes it an inconvenient service."

Getz suggests adding an extra lane onto existing highways and turning it into an express toll. Buses could ride on the lane during rush hour traffic and regular traffic could for tolls adjusted to the amount of congestion.

Mayor Megan Barry has said increasing the frequency of bus stops, including later hours and more locations, has always been a part of the traffic plan.

"I think there's always going to be folks who think there are lots of great ideas out there. We actually gathered information from Nashvillians over the past few years from the Nashville Next project and Moving forward," the mayor said. "With over 30,000 people giving input, they told us exactly what we're going to see."

The city is expected to release its plan for transit in October. It should show where the light rail will run and how much it will cost.