Mayor Stresses Transit Plan Would Benefit Thousands Of Students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Mayor David Briley joined students at Head Magnet Middle School on board an MTA bus to stress how the multi-billion dollar transit plan would benefit thousands of teenagers.

It was the latest push as Davidson County residents get ready to hit the polls Tuesday to vote on increasing taxes to support the massive plan.

Part of the plan would enhance bus services by adding more bus routes across the county, more pickup times, and longer hours within the next 18 months. 

"I'm incredibly optimistic we'll get the right results tomorrow [Tuesday]," Briley said. "It's about providing independence for every child in our town and an opportunity to reach their highest potential."

There are roughly 5,000 Metro Nashville Public School students who are part of StrIDe, a program that allows students to travel to and from school and other activities via an MTA bus. The number makes up 20 percent of ridership in Metro.

There are about 3,500 bus riders everyday and ten million rides a year, according to the director of Transportation & Sustainability.

If passed, the mayor said 87 percent of every school in town will be half a mile within a new or existing bus route. 

"We're going to see about 70 percent of all students get a faster ride to or from school," added Briley. "Immediately, it'll make it easier for kids."

The mayor argued it would help families who cannot afford to buy a vehicle for their child and help younger generations in the long run.

"Test scores tend to drop off when kids are tardy. One of the top two reasons for being tardy is oversleeping and transportation, so it's a way for us to provide independence, opportunity, and more of a chance to succeed for students attending a Metro school," the mayor said.

No Tax 4 Tracks, a group that has vocalized its disapproval of the plan, sent NewsChannel 5 a statement that said: "Improving bus routes could happen today without giving Nashville one of the highest sales tax of any major city.  If the Mayor is serious about helping congestion, he could direct MTA to make changes now."

Overall, close to 60,000 people voted early. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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