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Monday, May 11, 2015

Bring Back the Dinky

A few more thoughts on public transportation…I know it is not the main focus of Shade Parade Nashville but the two are tightly linked.  I would encourage the pedestrians (that would be every single person) of Nashville to consider what they think would be the best system.  A great way to do this is to see what other cities are doing.  When you travel - try it.  I have been personally so excited to see the Bus Rapid Transit (on par with The Amp) that Chicago just put in.  I lived in Chicago for 5 year - it is where I first encountered public transportation and it is also where I fell in love with it.  Where else can you enjoy great people watching, read a book, and be transported to your next destination?  I see it as nothing but win-win-win.  But it has to work:  it has to be quick, comfortable, and convenient.

  Nashville needs public transportation that is modern and works.  And, without great walkability - public transportation will remain a marginalized option for most.  

The trolley car might be an option.  There used to be trolleys in Nashville that ran short routes frequently (and they were packed!).  For example, along 46th, from Murphy Rd to Charlotte, ran the Dinky.  The combination of a trolley + great sidewalks made Sylvan Park thrive.  




In a similar vein, in Brazil, where I lived for a few months during college, they had a combination system of large city buses that ran the major roads and small 'baby buses' that ran select routes  through the neighborhoods.  These baby bus routes allowed one to get the groceries home as they literally brought you to your door.

Park City, UT has a system of buses that run every 10-15 minutes for free.  It is highly motivating to use as you know that a ride is always coming within minutes of you arriving at the stop.  Simply, it would take you longer to park so the bus is a very practical option.  

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Not so in Nashville.  The main frustration I have had with the bus in Nashville is it lack of frequency.   If you miss a bus - you may wait a very long time until the next arrives sometimes 45 minutes even during the day.  Arguably equal is the lack of walkability in many areas.  When I used to take the West End bus, rather like a school child, I had to wait in someone's front yard and flag the bus down.  Frequently, the bus would almost fly by without seeing me.  I had to wave frantically to get the drivers attention.  There was something very undignified about it all that made the whole thing feel kind of ridiculous for a grown woman, heading to work, to be doing.  

Many bus stops are simply a concrete pad.  Getting let off on such a pad that links to nothing is a significant psychological barrier.  



 Even the mayor, who takes the Hillsboro bus at times, does not walk to the bus despite living 10 minutes on foot from it.  He drives to a parking lot and walks across the street.   This kind of work - driving to take the bus - is not something most will do.  Once in the car, they are just going to keep going.    



Bring back the Dinky?
Other ideas?




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