The Koch Brothers Win: Nashville Abandons “Amp” BRT Plans

Nashville’s bid to build its first high-capacity transit line is dead, the Tennessean is reporting today. It’s a victory for the Koch brothers-funded local chapter of Americans for Prosperity and a defeat for the city’s near-term hopes of transitioning to less congested, more sustainable streets.

Nashville's 7-mile "Amp" BRT was part of a larger vision for a better connected, more efficient region. Image: AMP Yes
Nashville’s 7-mile “Amp” BRT was envisioned as the beginning of a more connected transit network and less car dependent city. Image: AMP Yes

The project, known as the Amp, called for a 7-mile busway linking growing East Nashville to downtown and parts of the city’s west end. Civic leaders hoped it would be the first of many high-capacity bus routes that would help make the growing city more attractive and competitive.

But Mayor Karl Dean, facing organized opposition to the project, announced late last year that he would not try to start building the Amp before he leaves office later in 2015.  This week the city’s leading transit official made it official and stopped design work on the Amp, The Tennessean reports.

The opposition group “Stop Amp” was led by local car dealership impresario Lee Beaman and limousine company owner Rick Williams, according to the Tennessean. The group also had help from the Koch brothers, with the local chapter of Americans for Prosperity introducing a bill in the State Senate that would have outlawed dedicated transit lanes throughout  Tennessee. Opponents fell short of that, but Republicans in the legislature were a constant obstacle to the project’s funding.

Transit supporters in Nashville are now left to pick up the pieces and figure out what comes next. “We’ve never come so far in bringing this level of mass transit to Nashville, and we have to continue the conversation to make it a reality,” Dean said in a statement last week.

  • It must be incredibly frustrating to these people that outside business interests in the form of the Koch brothers, have been able to buy their way into local politics and ensure the city maintains an unsustainable trajectory.

  • KPB

    Now Nashvillians should go whole hog and demand an even more expensive, more comprehensive subway system. Let’s get Nashville moving!

  • Andres Dee

    I’ve said umpteen times that there are “interests” out there who want to insure that transit be as unattractive as possible, otherwise folks won’t aspire to a car-centric life. That the opposition to AMP was driven by a car dealer and limo service, just illustrates my point.

    “Even though we aren’t moving forward with the Amp, we will move forward with our strategic planning efforts and engage in extensive dialogue with residents to gain their input on transit solutions for our community,” he added. “We will continue to focus on this corridor as well as others in the region.”

    Wow, a stretagic plan and extensive dialogue!

  • Andres Dee

    That’s the “beauty” of BRT. You can shrink it down to the point that it easily disappears.

  • tbatts666

    I wonder what he people who actually live in the city limits actually think about this. Be silly for the state to decide what a city does with it’s streets…

  • C Monroe

    go for subway but only settle for elevated! just one step down.

  • Coffee Partier

    The biggest opponent was a used car salesman who owned 15 acres on the route. Very sad development for a city that is so dependant on automobiles.

  • al

    Crony Capitalism. He wants to keep his business and is willing to use political means to kill options other than driving.

  • 40degreesflaps

    Angie, when are you gonna wake up? I could have told you five years ago that would happen. It’s not the United States of San Francisco where everyone runs around on bikes trying to save the world with someone else’s money. Haven’t you figured that out by now?

  • Chris

    How do you run on a bike?

  • If I had a nickle for every time I’ve heard “this isn’t x”, in reference to a city. The ignorance is yours in believing that things can’t change. There are literally dozens, of cities maybe hundreds if you count smaller towns across North America that are actively choosing to change their direction, to improve future prospects. Refusing change because your city isn’t CURRENTLY “San Francisco” is really just burying your head in the sand.

  • Marc Dreyfuss

    You do know that rapid transit and bikes are different things, right? As for San Francisco, if you lived there, your house would be worth a hell of a lot more, so maybe they’re on to something.

  • Ben

    America, where money trumps all. Land of the free.

  • junglecat64

    The people of Nashville are the winners, not the Koch brothers. The Amp was a turkey that deserved to die.

  • I am a conservative and very much support mass transit!

  • How do those people who either want to drive but can’t get around. HUH??? Mass transit is a right cars are not
    !

  • Jethro

    I’m glad Nashville doesn’t have to get a socialist moslem Kenyan transit system! Global warming isn’t real – it was cold the other day. Also, science is just a theory, hippies! Get a job or go back to Burning Man.

  • hcat

    What the hell do the Koch brothers have to gain from this? What does this have to do with conservatism?

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