Regular service on the Music City Star began this morning, and city officials are keeping a watchful eye on how commuters respond to the rail service from Lebanon to Nashville.
The Metro Planning Organization produces the studies that determine how the Regional Transportation Authority moves forward with mass transit projects, like the Music City Star.
The MPO’s senior transportation planner Jim McAteer says people are quick to criticize initially, saying that trains aren’t always running at capacity. But he adds that mass transit – at a glance – can be deceiving.
“Someone will comment that the buses will run empty, so therefore the buses aren’t working either. But the fact of the matter is if you get on the interstate at 7:30 at night, it’s pretty empty. So, there are a lot of similarities and you can’t make direct correlations like that.”
This morning’s launch of commuter rail in the mid-state has spent more than ten years in the making. RTA has a goal of 15-hundred daily riders after nine months of operation. But McAteer says the east line’s success will not necessarily translate into commuter rail service expanding to other cities like Murfreesboro and Gallatin.
McAteer says the MPO is awaiting a transportation analysis of the Murfreesboro to Nashville route, due out later this year. He says a study of the northeast corridor to Gallatin will then commence, and transportation officials will begin making decisions about the development of mass transit on a route-by-route basis.
Schedules and tickets for the Music City Star are available at Music-City-Star-dot-org.