By Clint Confehr
NASHVILLE, TN — To reduce traffic congestion downtown, Metro’s transit gurus want more commuters to go to work any way other than one person per car.
So, they’re challenging downtown residents to leave their cars parked Oct. 22-26 and: ride bikes, public transit, van- or carpools, scooters; use ride-hailing apps; work flexible schedules or at home.
Recognition of volunteers is planned for next month.
Employers are encouraged to help employees participate in Nashville’s first transportation demand management program, the Nashville Connector, also known as nashconnector.org. Its links explain alternatives including van/bus routes, bike paths, how to ride-share for money, and ride hailing apps.
Call (615) 862-7150. Ask for Nashville Connector manager Miranda Clements’ office to discuss the service or get a speaker for a business or service club luncheon, breakfast or office chat. The number goes to Metro’s planning department. It got a $1,184,684 grant through the Tennessee Department of Transportation and $293,560 from the Metropolitan Transit Authority to “help reduce mobile source emissions and improve air quality,” according to a resolution sponsored by council members Tanaka Vercher, Fabian Bedne and Larry Hagar.
“We aim to help commuters adapt and plan a better commute,” Clements said. “Our staff and website are available to employers and employees looking to move around Nashville efficiently.”
Clements commutes by driving to a park and ride lot, riding an express bus and then walking to 800 2nd Ave. S. She could ride all the way, but for her it’s easier to walk the last leg.
Mayor David Briley frequently walks to work from his Germantown home. He also rides the bus.
“The Nashville Connector program is exactly what Nashville needs as we welcome new jobs and talent in the city,” Briley said. “There are many things that attract people to Nashville … Ease of mobility should be one of them.”
Recent reports say people change jobs because of bad traffic.
“With this program,” Briley said, “we can all be better connected to transportation options.”
Reportedly: eight of 10 downtown employees commute alone; half don’t live downtown;
and traffic will increase 45 percent if all 72 pending developments are built. So, Nashville Connector offers free consulting to analyze commutes and offer alternatives.
Planning Department geo-designer Jen Johnson of Germantown rides her 16-gear bike or drives to work. It’s: 16 minutes by cycle; 11-12 minutes driving, unless there’s a crash. Then it’s 30 minutes. She moved from Philadelphia’s center city where “it makes no sense to drive to work,” she said. Her commute was 10 minutes.
Seattle, Austin, Kansas City, Memphis, Knoxville and Chattanooga have Transportation Demand Management programs like nashconnector.org.
TDM is a “high priority for TDOT,” Commissioner John Schroer said, noting success in Chattanooga, Knoxville and Memphis.
Clements said downtown residents should do “more than think about it,” but she’s realistic; “We don’t expect to change everybody’s behavior.”