Metro Transit Authority CEO Steve Bland Asks Nashville Mayor Megan Barry for $85 Million Increase in Capital Budget

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“The Metro Transit Authority asked Nashville Mayor Megan Barry for a 427 percent capital budget increase on Monday,” Fox 17 WZTV reports.

MTA’s request for this quadrupling of its capital budget comes as the Tennessee General Assembly is debating Gov. Haslam’s IMPROVE Act proposal, which would increase gas taxes by 7 cents per gallon and diesel taxes by 12 cents per gallon.

As The Tennessee Star reported earlier this week, in FY 2015-2016, highway user fees, primarily gas and diesel taxes, generated $1.2 billion in revenue for the State of Tennessee. $309 million of these highway user fees were given by the State of Tennessee to cities and counties for “transportation” projects:

The Haslam administration has not, as of yet, presented evidence that all of the $309 million in highway user fee taxes sent to city and county governments for “transportation” projects is spent on road construction.

“The money in the cities and counties column is their share of the collected taxes,” State Rep. Lynn asserted in her email to a constituent.

It is at present unknown how much of these $309 million in highway user fee taxes sent to city and county government is spent on projects such as parks, bikeways, and other non-road construction projects [such as mass transit]. (emphasis added)

“MTA CEO Steve Bland says this is an early step in making the $6 billion nMotion plan to improve transit over the next 25 years a reality,” WZTV notes:

 

The MTA asked the mayor for $10 million dollars more in next year’s operating budget, and $85 million more than its existing $20 million in its capital spending budget.

MTA discussed costs of replacing on-bus payment systems, which would cost about $11,000 a piece at the budget presentation. MTA outlines the pros and cons of the cash-less mass-transit, day passes and mobile pay, saying it would impact low-income riders. Right now, MTA says about 40 percent of riders pay in cash.

The nMotion plan takes into account population growth over the next 25 years. It calls for more bus routes and rails.

“This is just sort of an opening entree if you will into that discussion,” Bland told Mayor Barry at an open meeting attend by the media on Monday:

WZTV included a comment from a tourist, who is not a taxpayer in either Davidson County or any other county in Tennessee, in its reporting on the story.

“An underground would probably be a bigger undertaking and take longer so if there was a light rail I think that would be a really great option,” WZTV reported “Arianna Alonzo, who is visiting Nashville from San Francisco” said.

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