Backers of a proposed bus-rapid transit line across Nashville are touting results from a survey out Wednesday from the Rockefeller Foundation. The New York-based philanthropy found most Nashvillians would take the bus instead of driving, if it sped up their commute.
Rockefeller called up 500 registered voters in February, and two-thirds said they’d pay an extra dime a day for reliable mass transit that shortens their trip in. Benjamin de la Peña says that’s surprising, since Nashville depends more on cars than other cities surveyed, like Chicago and Boston.
De la Peña is associate director at Rockefeller, and points to a shift, as young people heading to work focus more on gadgets.
De la Peña: “Particularly driven by the millennial generation, that would prefer to take public transit, than go around driving in cars.”
Reporter: “It’s a lot easier to text on a bus than in the driver’s seat, for sure.”
De la Peña: “Absolutely. It’s not just texts; it’s staying on your iPad or your phone rather than staring at the road.”
Rockefeller makes no claim of neutrality in the issue, saying bus rapid transit fits its mission of sustainability and opportunity. De la Peña argues Rockefeller wouldn’t preconceive the survey’s outcome, because ultimately it’s not helpful to overstate the case for BRT and set it up to fail.
Nashville’s proposed BRT line, called the Amp, has its skeptics, who doubt dividing a major thoroughfare amid years of roadwork is worth the trouble, or the cost. Both sides have been invited to speak about the Amp proposal Saturday, July 27, at Belle Meade Methodist Church (corner of Davidson Rd. and Post Rd.) in the Fellowship Hall (facing Post Rd.) from 10 a.m. to noon.
In addition to Nashville, the survey tested the waters for public transportation in Boston, Pittsburgh and Chicago. You can view a PDF of the four cities’ results on mass transit here.
The head of the Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee, Ed Cole, says the survey confirms backers’ case for the Amp proposal. Metro officials hope to draw down tens of millions of state and federal dollars to help build a dedicated east-west bus route with limited stops from Five Points in East Nashville through downtown, continuing along West End to White Bridge Road.