Thursday, November 25, 2010

Transportation Alliance of Middle Tennessee: Revisited & Discussed

The other day I shared with you a RC Commission topic for discussion at our last Monthly Meeting regarding the Transportation Alliance of Middle Tennessee.

Jim Bellis with The Robertson County Times has since published an article regarding the same topic. Recall that I opined that this is a topic that likely will be brought back to discussion before the RC Commission ("RCC") sometime in January. The topic will be whether to allocate funds for support of the effort.

Here are several items that stuck out in the article, and some of the key factors the RCC must consider in January:

#1 – The Need

"We've got at least 14,600 people commuting to Nashville every day from Robertson County," said Bradley. "We need to address transportation needs both current and future. Mass transit is part of the answer."
Though I do not know exactly where those numbers come from, they would not come as surprise to you, me or any of our neighbors. It seems in my walk that amongst those that I go to church with, sit on boards with or socialize with outside of my professional responsibilities…folks commute to and from Nashville. With the growth that is coming (whether we like it or not! - And, I know that this comment is initially harsh sounding, but the conversation has to be moving towards managing the growth that is coming. The conversation has to center around what we will do, and not if…) to our County, we must keep it in mind, and we must plan for the best way to ensure that Springfield and Robertson County stay in front of ideas and means to manage this growth.

This is an effort that does just that. Whether it is successful or not should not be the focus, it is forward thinking and a way in which we may gauge the needs of our County, and what direction those needs may take the County.

#2 – The Route

Beginning in January, the Regional Transport Authority will initiate a two-month sample of services from the Relaxing Ride program. Consisting of two 55 passenger busses, the service will offer transportation to and from Nashville, originating in Springfield.
Bradley went on to explain that the route will leave Springfield on Highway 49 W. and make a stop in the Coopertown/Pleasant View area before continuing on to Nashville. He said there are options to increase the number of busses serving the county if the need exists.
This should give those a sample size of just what is involved with the project. Something that I did not entirely know was that the route would pass through the Coopertown and Pleasant View areas.

I can immediately hear those in the White House area clamoring for their own or wondering why they are left out of the effort. Yet, this is just what I would like to hear, a discussion about what need may be out there for what and whom. This effort could be just a start, and a sign of what we could put together.

#3 – The Costs

"People who work for Vandy or the state ride free. The rest of us, it's $3.50 each way."

If implemented on a permanent basis, the cost to the county and the city of Springfield would be about $24,000 annually. The state and federal governments would pick up the remainder expenses.
The bottom lines saved for the bottom point.

I would almost say that they speak for themselves, BUT…

…I could not leave it at that for in the community in which we live, mass transit may not be seen as a "need" or a fruitful endeavor.

I probably would have fallen in the category several years ago, but the more I have thought about this topic, the more I have liked the idea. During law school (in Birmingham, AL), Jillian and I lived in a community 20-25 miles (Alabaster, AL) outside of where we both worked and went to school. Traffic was terrible, and the commute was horrible, but we were absolutely happy with where we worked and went to school while simultaneously being happy with the community in which we lived. What was terrible: the means to get to and from both places. We tried each and every way to avoid the troubles with that commute, from waking up and timing, to alternative routes, etc. Nothing worked, and it effected decisions for where we would reside and what we would do if given the chance to stay in Birmingham. Now, I do not want to paint a picture that I think that the commute into Nashville is anywhere near that of what it was for Jillian and I in Birmingham. Anecdotally, my law practice takes me into Nashville several times a month.

Look at what is cited in the article:

Davidson County and the surrounding counties are expected to expand by one-million people within the next 15 years, according to the Metropolitan Planning Organization's (MPO) projections. MPO also says that now is the time to be planning in order to avoid a crippling gridlock then.
This could be something that folks consider when they consider where they would reside, and that "could be" is why exploring these options, and opening up to new ideas is imperative.

In moving forward, I would be curious to hear your thoughts on the issue, and where we must go, and what we should consider for this topic. (Routes? Needs? Costs?) I know that we are in the initial stages of discussing this, but what do you not know that you need to know?



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