Following a Failed Referendum, Nashville Transit Advocates Regroup

Last spring, voters resoundingly quashed Let's Move Nashville, a $5.4 billion plan to build out the city's transit options. The plan paid too little attention to current riders, advocates say, and they aim to do things differently.
June 11, 2019, 2pm PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry resigned amidst scandal last year, and with her went Let's Move Nashville, a transportation package that voters rejected by a 64% to 34% marginTransitCenter calls the vote "a stunning defeat for a plan that consistently polled well and enjoyed support from the Chamber of Commerce and dozens of business and civic organizations." But as critics tell it, Let's Move Nashville suffered from major flaws besides its association with the former mayor. 

For one thing, TransitCenter reports, "with 80 percent of the funds earmarked for building five light rail corridors and a tunnel through downtown, a relatively small percentage was left over for bus and pedestrian improvements"the kinds of projects current transit riders actually want. Some associated the plan with an overeager appetite for transit-oriented development, stoking gentrification fears.

In the year since, "transit supporters regrouped, determined to grapple with what went wrong and learn from past mistakes. A year after the vote, a new coalition is reviving the transit conversation in Nashville." They include the advocacy groups behind the Nashville Community Transportation Platform and a broad coalition including business groups called Connect Mid TN

The new coalition wants to place greater emphasis on community engagement, which they say was definitively lacking last time. But they may have to contend with lackluster backing from city leaders like Mayor David Briley, "whose support for transit is lukewarm at best."

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Published on Thursday, June 6, 2019 in TransitCenter
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