Nashville Scrambles Buses For Trump Visit — While Seeking A Way To Be Less Downtown-Centric

Mar 13, 2017

News of President Donald Trump’s visit to Nashville has lit up social media — including many commentators who are grousing about the impact to the city’s transit system.

The downtown bus station, Music City Central, will be closed for security while Trump speaks at Municipal Auditorium, and this will force thousands of riders to catch buses instead on 6th Avenue between Korean Veterans Boulevard and Demonbreun Street. And a parking garage that typically fills to capacity will also be unavailable.

More: Police outline array of road closures

More: MTA details alternative bus plan

Mayor Megan Barry brought up these challenges during the Metro Transit Authority’s budget hearing on Monday — and made clear that the impact will be less than ideal.

“This is done at the request of the Secret Service,” Barry said. “This is not something that Metro makes the decision…”

“By the way,” interjected Steve Bland, CEO of the MTA, “I’m not sure I would use the term ‘request.’ ”

Bland said his agency has scrambled to make adjustments. Expecting delays and closures, he’s asking for patience.

The MTA has arranged for its free Music City Circuit buses to help shuttle riders to the one-day transfer area, which will be located where 6th Avenue cuts through the convention center. The agency is also warning that congestion and detours could disrupt its train service.

And customers are being asked to buy all bus passes before Wednesday, as ticket vending won't be available at the temporary terminal.

Disruption Shows A System Shortcoming

Bland also parlayed the moment into a crafty reminder about one of his department’s funding requests. Backed by public demand in the nMotion transit plan, the MTA wants to build several smaller bus hubs throughout neighborhoods, to be less reliant on the downtown station.

“So if I can make a pitch for projects, the more neighborhood transit centers we have, and the more … decentralized our network is …” Bland began, drawing laughs before being gently cut off by the mayor’s staff.

Bland’s proposal is a ways off. Eventually, he would like 23 neighborhood stations — starting this year with work on hubs near Tennessee State University, and in Green Hills and SoBoro.