Nashville Transit 101: Breaking Down The Numbers

Posted at 12:39 PM, Apr 25, 2018

With just a few days left before the May 1 transit referendum, we're hearing from many viewers that you're still confused about the plan. We're breaking down the numbers on how much the plan will cost.  

What does the $5.4 billion cover? 

  • 5 light rail lines: Murfreesboro Pike, Nolensville Pike, Charlotte Avenue, Gallatin Avenue and a Northwest Corridor to North Nashville, along with a downtown tunnel to move trains and buses in and out of downtown without disrupting downtown traffic.
  • An overhaul of the bus system: an all-electric fleet with Wi-Fi on board, more routes, more frequency and more times until 1:15 a.m.
  • 19 neighborhood transit centers, many of which will offer park and ride options for those who don't live walking distance to major rail and bus corridors
  • Sidewalks, bikes lanes and synchronized lights

Why are we also seeing a number close to $9 billion on the ballot?

That number include the $5.4 billion to build, plus inflation and operating costs for the next 15 years. That can be anything from gas to maintenance, to salaries for bus drivers. It's a good number to know but won't change how much the plan costs for taxpayers, as it's been factored in from the beginning. 

How much will it cost taxpayers?

The referendum calls for a pot dedicated just for transit, to avoid budget showdowns.

The plan calls for four tax raises: 

  • Sales tax: .5 percent until 2023, 1 percent through 2068
  • Business tax: 20 percent
  • Rental car tax: 20 percent
  • Hotel tax: 3/8 percent

The tax garnering the most attention due to the direct impact on taxpayers is the sales tax increase.

What does that mean for an average person?

There are a lot of numbers being thrown out there, from both sides. The best guess seems to be the Chamber of Commerce estimate, that puts it around $10 per-month, per-person.

But the most accurate way to determine the personal cost is to look at your finances. Add 1 percent to what you spend on taxable goods (total amount times .01). That's how much you would feel it.