Nashville Is Ready to Embrace Transit

In a new poll, a supermajority of city residents support a sales tax increment to pay for transit expansion.

Nashville's $6 billion regional transit plan calls for several new light rail and bus rapid transit lines. Map:  nMotion2015
Nashville's $6 billion regional transit plan calls for several new light rail and bus rapid transit lines. Map: nMotion2015

Nashville finally seems poised to do something about its car dependence.

Regional planners have put together a $6 billion transit expansion plan that calls for four light rail lines, three bus rapid transit routes, a commuter rail connection, and more. Meanwhile, a bill backed by Governor Bill Haslam has been advancing in the statehouse to allow both a statewide gas tax increase and local transit referendums.

It looks like a referendum in Nashville would fare well. A survey conducted by Vanderbilt University found that by a two-to-one margin, Nashville residents support a small sales tax increase to pay for transit, reports Joey Garrison at the Tennessean:

The poll found that 63 percent of Nashvillians would be willing to pay 25 cents more on sales tax for every $100 if the extra money went toward improving public transportation. Thirty-five percent said they would not be willing, while 3 percent said they either didn’t know or refused to answer.

An even higher percentage of respondents, 68 percent, said they would be willing to pay 50 cents in additional sales tax for every $100 they spent, compared with 30 percent who said they would not be willing.

Eighty-six percent of the poll’s respondents said they would support holding a citywide referendum that allows voters to decide whether Nashville should make more funding available for improving public transportation. Just 11 percent said they oppose a referendum.

John Geer, a political science professor at Vanderbilt who co-directed the poll, said the results indicate that dedicated funding for transit has momentum in Nashville.

More recommended reading today: Following last week’s truck attack in London, the Invisible Visible Man considers the growing frequency of terrorist acts committed with motor vehicles. And Bike PGH explains how Pittsburgh is planning to overhaul a local street by adding bus rapid transit and protected bike lanes.

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