By Ashley Benkarski
NASHVILLE, TN — WeGo is making public transit more accessible and more affordable for Nashville commuters by going digital, company officials said.
With a new app and reloadable ticket card, the Quick Ticket program will allow riders to travel anywhere throughout its service area for $4 per day, with discounts available to riders who qualify.
The most common response WeGo CEO Steve Bland heard from most riders was to make the transit service operation easier to use and understand, he said. The app is great for commuters and tourists alike who can now find routes and other services at the tap of a finger and pay by scanning their phone.
“Paying for the ride is the barrier,” he continued.
The initiative makes for a nearly seamless public transit experience that riders and bus drivers appreciate, with one driver remarking she wished there was a way to get a card to everyone.
Bland noted that there are a range of areas in its service routes with households that have no access to their own transportation.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) website reviewed data from the American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates for 2008-2012 which found Shelby County has the highest number of households that do not have access to a vehicle (32,327), followed by Davidson (19,434), Knox (10,711), and Hamilton (10,628) Counties.
Nearly 60 percent of all households in Tennessee without access to a vehicle are located within the ten counties that have the highest number of households without transportation and represent a transit dependent population in Tennessee’s communities that require additional mobility options, TDOT said.
Further, the Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) found the distance between where people live and work is widening, leading to increased transportation expenses, particularly for those working in metro areas.
“Between 2000-2012 the number of jobs near the typical resident in the Nashville metro area declined by more than ten percent and transportation now ranks as the second largest expense, after housing, for Tennessee households,” the TDHA website reads.
From 2010 to 2016 the average commute time increased by about 1.2 minutes daily in the state and double that time in metro Nashville. This increase in average commute time in the state is the equivalent of reducing 15 million man-hours of potential productivity every year, THDA’s website said.
Rural areas such as Houston, Sequatchie, Van Buren and McNairy counties each experienced a more than 15 percent increase since 2010, the agency detailed.
WeGo is also conducting research to verify and ultimately expand retail locations most convenient to riders in which to offer the reloadable cards.
The cards are currently available through Customer Care or vending machines found at WeGo Central, located at 400 Rep. John Lewis Way in downtown Nashville.
The company is also in the process of developing neighborhood transit centers, upgrading pedestrian access and renovating bus stop shelters to more comfortably accommodate people and improve lighting for safety, Bland said.
In the wake of COVID-19 the company made major upgrades to its filtration systems, enabled a contactless system in its services, expanded cleaning and custodial staff and repurposed some of its security personnel to ride on the buses to inform riders that proper health precautions such as wearing a mask while in transit are in the interest of community safety.
The filtration systems on the buses now turn air over once every minute, the highest caliber of filtration that can be installed in a mobile source, Bland stated.
While coronavirus variants continue to pose a threat to the most vulnerable among us, WeGo asks for individual cooperation from its customers in terms of wearing masks in its locations and on its buses.
Visit quicktickettn.com or download the Quick Ticket TN app to sign up for access on mobile devices.