Transit Experts Discuss Solutions for Middle Tennessee

The Nashville region is one of the fastest-growing cities and strongest job markets in the nation. But how much more vibrant and sustainable would our region be if we had a fully formed transit system? This was the topic of the first event in our new Moving Forward speaker series.

On Sept. 9, national transit experts James Corless of Transportation for America and Stephanie Lotshaw of TransitCenter weighed in on how Middle Tennessee should embrace the opportunity to implement a regional mass transit system.

According to Corless, "Demographics, funding and technology are combining to disrupt how we think about transit," and that's why the time is particularly ripe for our region to discuss solutions. Across the nation, demand for all forms of transit is reaching a peak, as businesses and individuals increasingly want to be in mixed-use neighborhoods with easily accessible amenities.

Corless and Lotshaw cited Salt Lake City, Denver and Charlotte as examples of cities that have transformed their transit options in recent years, leading to positive economic impact. For instance, Salt Lake City went from zero to 163 miles of rail transit between 1999 and 2013. Corless cautioned, however, that many cities fail more than once to create viable transit systems because it represents a "sea change" in the way people think. Strong civic support and a comprehensive approach are crucial to success.

"If you show people how [transit] works and how it can change their community, they get behind it," said Lotshaw. She noted that the average approval rate for public transportation ballot measures has been 70 percent over the past 10 years – and that success holds across different regions and party affiliations.  

Nashville has been hailed as the "It City," but our prosperity is jeopardized by the fact that we've fallen behind our peers in making progress with transit. We created the Moving Forward initiative to address these challenges and support breaking ground on the first rapid transit project in our region by 2020. To learn more, visit To view Corless and Lotshaw's presentation, click here.

Stephanie Lotshaw of TransitCenter was one of the experts discussing how Middle Tennessee can build a world-class regional transit system at the Moving Forward speaker event on Sept. 9.

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