RTA Expands Reach, Broadens Power

The agency that coordinates ride-share programs and runs the Music City Star rail line is prepping for a much larger role in actually getting people from point A to point B. As of this month, the Regional Transportation Authority now has the power to pay for projects through new fees and taxes.

When created by state law, the RTA wasn’t given much power and primarily played the role of a planning organization. New legislation gives the board much broader authority.

Ed Cole, who is the RTA’s secretary, says the agency can now build a true regional mass transit system.

“The new RTA under this statute would have the ability to issue bonds to construct transit projects, and that’s extremely significant.”

The RTA still doesn’t have taxing authority, as in other metropolitan areas. But it can set up a dedicated funding source, like a special fee or tax – levied by local governments – that goes directly to fund transit projects.

The new RTA will also be able to expand into Maury and Montgomery counties, which weren’t part of the original agency.

Local governments have until the end of the year to opt in to the new Regional Transportation Authority.

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