Nashville desperately wants to encourage more downtown workers to do anything but drive solo into work. Yesterday, the city’s Metro Planning Department launched “Nashville Connector,” a program that the Nashville Business Journal describes as a “transportation demand-management program,” designed to “maximize existing transportation options,” while reducing the amount of single-occupant vehicles on the road.
The new program comes after Nashville metro-area voters rejected a $5.4-billion plan to expand public transit options across the fast-growing region.
As Next City reported previously, that plan, while it had some momentum ahead of the May vote, failed because of a few factors. A significant number of voters opposed the proposed sales-tax increase, and several progressive groups expressed concern around the lack of a community benefits agreement and anti-displacement guarantees. But, mostly, the plan was doomed after the unexpected resignation of its chief proponent — former Mayor Megan Barry — after a scandal involving taxpayer-funded personal trips and an extramarital affair.
With grant funding mostly from the Tennessee Department of Transportation, combined with a small bit of local funding, the Metro Planning Department wants to work with companies one by one to analyze what alternative transportation options might best suit the needs of each company’s employees, according to the Nashville Business Journal. These analyses, provided free to companies, will include a variety of recommendations, including potential flexible work hours, carpool or vanpool options and transit solutions. After delivering each analysis, the department also promises to take on the burden of educating employees about available options.
“We want to create a shift in how people think about transportation,” said Metro Planning Department’s Miranda Clements, according to the Nashville Business Journal. She also told the site that her team’s goal is to persuade 10 percent of the downtown employees who drive to work alone to change their habits, even if it’s just for a few days per week. The Journal quotes Clements as saying that currently, 84 percent of downtown’s roughly 72,000 employees drive to work alone.
Oscar is Next City's senior economics correspondent. He previously served as Next City’s editor from 2018-2019, and was a Next City Equitable Cities Fellow from 2015-2016. Since 2011, Oscar has covered community development finance, community banking, impact investing, economic development, housing and more for media outlets such as Shelterforce, B Magazine, Impact Alpha, and Fast Company.