Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Will the Amp/Bus Rapid Transit cause more problems than it cures?

In case you missed it, the following article by Malcolm Getz, an associate professor of economics at Vanderbilt University, was in today's Tennessean.

I am, at this point, undecided if I support the Amp or not.  I do think that Nashville needs to embrace greater housing density close in to downtown and began building mass transit. In my view, we need to move away from the model of greater and greater sprawl and building wider interstates. We do not want to become Atlanta or L. A. Good, liveable, big cities you would want to visit have mass transit.  I do have reservations, however, about taking two and sometimes three lanes of West End to devote to dedicated bus lanes. I think the loss of traffic capacity will result in greater congestion, more than current drivers choosing to ride the bus will result in less congestion.

by Malcolm Getz,The Tennessean, Jun. 3, 2013 - Permanently removing two lanes of traffic from Broadway and West End for The Amp/BRT will dramatically increase traffic congestion. Congestion will increase the day construction begins and will have strong adverse consequences for a long time.

How does The Amp/BRT cause congestion? (link)

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  1. I'm posting here only because I was searching about AMP and found the Google link. Here are some facts about the transit project:

    1) will there be increased congestion and delays during the construction project? Absolutely. From day 1 it will be harder to commute up and down the corridor until the project is complete. But, this would happen with any major construction project, even just repaving the street. So its an irrelevant point even if true. Construction and maintenance will always be an issue.

    2) Will people who visit the corridor get out of cars? Don't the vacant buses that traverse the city now largely display a disinterest in mass transit?

    The truth is the current MTA bus system is a sham of a system. Most bus routes only have buses that come every 30 minutes to an hour, if not longer. They're delayed with the same traffic flow that existing traffic is stuck with, and they largely are only attractive to the very poor who can't afford cars who need to get to and from downtown.

    Point #2 is about as useless as a discussion over what came first, the chicken or the egg?

    The fact is that AMP is a mass transit project that will be aesthetically pleasing (instead of standing on the side of a busy suburban street you're at a "station" with notifications of when your next bus will arrive), it is frequent service (buses will run 5-10 minutes apart from one another, depending on if its rush hour or not), and it services as an urban core circulator, not just a route to get in and out of downtown.

    As such, it'll have a completely different clientelle base. Office workers, Vanderbilt students, hospital guests who may be visiting family, tourists who want to explore more of Nashville without driving.

    While it sounds minimal, it will most certainly reduce congestion relative to doing nothing. Even if only 10,000 or 15,000 people ultimately end up choosing to use this bus on a daily basis, it'll take those cars off the street.

    To me this is a no brainer: of course AMP is the right project for the right corridor. West End needs to be more pedestrian friendly.

    If all people are upset about is the fact they can't drive 50mph and make left turns wherever they please, weaving in and out of traffic, they're crying over nothing. 99.9% of the rest of the city operates like that. Let this .01% of the core become the urban boulevard it deserves to be.

    Just the aesthetic upgrade alone is worth it. AMP will finally make Nashville look like a first tier city, ready for the world to visit and enjoy.

    And lets be real, $175 million is dirt cheap to completely transform 7.1 miles worth of real estate. It's an infrastructure improvement that will leave Nashville open for business for years to come.

  2. I saw a note stating that some small slivers of land will need to be acquired to accommodate the amp. Where are those slivers located and how big are they.