Tea Party activist Ben Cunningham is leading an effort to collect signatures for an open letter to Nashville Mayor Megan Barry asking her to reconsider a proposed $6 billion regional mass transit plan.
The letter asks Barry to move the Nashville area “forward toward 21st century transit technologies and away from obsolete, extremely costly commuter railroads which will burden Nashville taxpayers for decades. Riders nationwide are abandoning these out-dated commuter railroads because so many new transit technologies offer so much more.”
The tentative mass transit plan for Middle Tennessee, designed to be phased in over 25 years, calls for light rail along Gallatin Pike, Charlotte Pike, Murfreesboro Pike and Nolensville Pike, and for light rail connecting Nashville and Clarksville, as well as for rapid buses.
Barry is committed to putting a referendum on the ballot next year to raise taxes for mass transit, and pro-transit groups are stepping up efforts to win over the public. However, Cunningham is advocating for a referendum that would limit Metro Nashville’s debt level, which could impede the mass transit project.
The open letter to Barry says:
Transit technology is undergoing an amazing revolution. Riders are demanding solutions that deliver more privacy, more safety, and more convenience. And that is precisely why ridership on traditional commuter railroad is declining nationwide. In fact ridership on buses and all other modes of old fashioned transit is also declining.
Studies indicate Uber and Lyft are already drawing away a substantial and increasing share of transit riders. And new services like Lyft Shuttle and UberPOOL and Via and Chariot will expand the menu of transit options available. And within a few years self-driving cars and shuttles will deliver even more transit options. Also, technologies such as 5g data networks will be deployed within two years and will make work-at-home telecommuting even more efficient.
The letter goes on to say that Nashvillians “no matter their income or location, want the safety, convenience and security of door to door transit” and that Nashville, now an “it” city, should endorse an “efficient, modern approach.” It also asks Barry to negotiate with companies that have received taxpayer-funded incentives to move downtown to offer more options to work from home and also staggered start times.
To see the entire letter, click here.