Please see our submission of Plan B for
Bus Rapid Transit in Nashville!
WHAT IS BRT/AMP?
The AMP is a proposed full-service 7.1 mile Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system that is being planned for Broadway/West End. It will begin at Five Points in East Nashville and extend to the Saint Thomas hospital area in West Nashville. This route was chosen because it was the only one that would qualify for Federal funds and without those funds the project will not move forward.
This is important because the proposed East/West Connector was not chosen because it was the best route. It was chosen because of the available Federal funds.
FACT: The AMP is a proposed rapid transit bus route from St. Thomas Hospital in West Nashville down Broadway and through downtown to 5 Points in East Nashville that will cost a projected $175 million, or $25 million per mile, to build.
FACT: The AMP will travel from St. Thomas Hospital on the west side to 5 points in East Nashville. The city will tear out 2-2 ½ lanes of traffic and put buses and loading stations in the center lane. All parking will be removed, and there will be no left turns except at certain traffic lights. 16 new pedestrian lights will be added along the route, causing more delays.
FACT: All on-street parking along the route will be eliminated. Left turns will only be permitted at a few designated stoplights.
FACT: Traffic along West End will become far more congested, leading to greater frustration, longer travel times, and more pollution.
FACT: The AMP means 2 to 3 years of constant road construction along a busy corridor, threatening local businesses.
FACT: We support effective, sensible improvements to mass transit for Nashville. That's why we oppose the AMP.
Why oppose the AMP? The AMP will create traffic problems along its route rather than resolving them. The AMP also represents an irresponsible investment of federal, state and local tax dollars because it does not address immediate public transit needs in Nashville—such as mass transit connecting the airport to other areas of Nashville, more service in areas such as North Nashville that are underserved, and better longer-range connectors to reduce interstate gridlock.
Who will pay for the AMP? The AMP will be paid for by federal, state and local taxes. The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) has applied for $75 million in federal funding, and Nashville has also requested $35 in state funding to help pay for this project. Nashville has not received a commitment of federal or state government funding for the AMP. State funding currently appears unlikely.
Has the AMP received funding from the federal government or the state of Tennessee? No. The AMP has applied for federal funding and requested state funding, but has not yet received a commitment of funding from either source. If the AMP does not receive federal or state funding, city planners will either have to consider lower-cost mass transit alternatives or ask local taxpayers to fund the entire cost of the AMP.
Where does the project currently stand? The MTA is waiting for the federal government to decide whether to award Nashville $75 million grant to help fund the construction of the AMP.
Does the AMP deliver bus service to a new area? No. The AMP serves a route that is already served by regular bus service. Believe it or not, that regular bus service will also continue along the AMP route, although it will be reduced to help underwrite the cost of the AMP.
Will the AMP attract additional bus riders? Not enough to justify its cost and impact. MTA projects only a 14% increase in riders over people who use the existing bus service along the West End corridor now. That’s only 63 more riders per day! Only 5200 riders are expected to ride the AMP in total, which comes to $33,653 per rider!
The AMP uses “dedicated lanes.” What does this mean? As currently planned, AMP buses will use 2 traffic lanes that will be closed to all other traffic, including other MTA buses. These lanes will run down the center of the street. AMP stops will also be installed in the middle of the street. At stops, the AMP will occupy the amount of space required for 3 lanes of regular traffic.
How will the installation of dedicated lanes for AMP buses affect other traffic? Lanes for car, truck and bus traffic will be much narrower in areas where dedicated AMP lanes are installed. Some lanes will be eliminated. Left turns will be allowed only at certain intersections. As a result, the AMP will increase traffic congestion along its route by forcing all other traffic into fewer and narrower lanes along much of its route. Skinnier lanes will also make for more difficult transit for emergency and other larger vehicles.
How many AMP stops are planned, and how will AMP stops affect other traffic? Up to 16 AMP stops are planned. Most AMP stops will not be located at intersections, so dedicated pedestrian lights will be added these stops. Current estimates are that 9 to 10 stops will need additional traffic lights. Adding 9 to 10 new traffic lights along the AMP route will slow traffic in already congested corridors.
Will on-street parking and bicycle lanes on West End and Broadway be eliminated by the AMP? Yes, the AMP will eliminate on-street parking and bicycle lanes along its entire route. Portions of the AMP corridor will function much like two separate one-way streets with the equivalent of a bus freeway running down the center of the street.
How will the AMP affect traffic entering the AMP route corridor from interstates and side streets? AMP buses running in dedicated lanes and will be capable of controlling traffic signals to avoid delays for bus passengers. This has the potential to slow all other traffic and to create traffic back-ups of cars and trucks seeking to enter the Harding/West End/Broadway corridor from interstates and side streets along the route.
Why was the St. Thomas/Five Points Route selected? Because of recent “upzoning” that allows for development of dense high-rise condominium and apartment complexes and townhomes, the Broadway/West End/East Nashville corridor is the only route in Nashville that qualifies for the federal grant program through which MTA seeks to fund part of the AMP’s cost.
But won’t more people want to ride the AMP? No studies support this claim! One major issue is that the AMP plan doesn’t account for the fact that most people travel on the corridor for one or two miles rather than using it to commute downtown. The AMP is thus not an option for most people who drive on West End and Broadway.
Where is the feasibility study for the AMP? No feasibility study was conducted. We have asked for one time and time again.
Isn't there already bus service along the proposed AMP route? Yes, and the buses are not running at capacity! AMP supporters claim the fact that the current slow, poor bus service means we need the AMP without pointing out that the same agency -- MTA -- will run the AMP.
Why don't we try improving existing bus service before building something expensive like the AMP? That's a good question to ask AMP supporters. We believe this should be tried before the AMP is built.
How much will the AMP cost to operate each year if it's built? Current projections indicate that the AMP will require a subsidy of more than $4 million a year. The exact amount will depend on how many people ride the AMP.
What do businesses and residents along the route think of the project? We believe more people oppose the AMP than support it, as measured by feedback we've received from people and neighborhood associations, Stop AMP website responses, yard sign requests, emails, etc., and feedback offered to Metro and MTA by people who attended events providing information about the AMP. When people understand what the AMP will do to the streets, businesses, residences and neighborhoods along its route, and the fact that it will detract from other transit services in Nashville because of its cost and the energy focused on it as the exclusion of improving regular bus service, most people don't want it.
What will be the environmental impact? The AMP will increase congestion by forcing all traffic to use fewer lanes all along its route. MORE CARS IDLING IN SLOW TRAFFIC = MORE POLLUTION!
Have other cities developed similar projects and were they successful? First, the AMP's projected initial cost is more than double what other cities have paid to create similar bus lines. In addition, there is sketchy data as to whether other projects have been successful at all. Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois said recently (8/27/13): “It is clear that the current mass transit governance system in Northeastern Illinois is not working for taxpayers and riders."
What is happening nationally on this issue? The Cato Institute says: “The effectiveness of local transit systems is undermined by federal subsidies, which encourage the construction of highly visible and expensive services such as light-rail trains to suburban areas despite the chronically low number of riders on those routes. Federal subsidies to transit advocacy groups and misguided environmental and labor regulations also encourage a large investment of taxpayer money in wasteful transit systems.”
Have residents and businesses been asked if they want this? No unbiased surveys or polls designed to explain the AMP and truly assess support for it have been conducted. The AMP route was selected with minimal public input; most Nashvillians thought the proposed "East/West Connector" would run along Charlotte Avenue.
Did people concerned about the AMP really have to file Freedom of Information requests to gain access to the materials supporting the AMP proposal? Yes, Freedom of Information requests were filed repeatedly to gain access to some reports upon which the AMP proposal is based. This is not how a publicly funded project should work. In addition, throughout the AMP planning process, citizens with valid questions about this project have been consistently been denied opportunities to ask questions, provide meaningful input and to get accurate information about the project's costs, benefits, traffic impact and drawbacks.
Won't the federal dollars available for the AMP go to some other city if Nashville doesn't get them? Nashville needs good, well-planned, well-designed, carefully thought out public transit. The AMP is none of these things. If we’re going to spend public funds--federal, state or local--on public transit, we should spend that money--our tax dollars--on projects that will truly serve the public rather than creating an expensive mess we will have to pay to clean up within a few short years.