Last week, the Tennessee Senate voted 27-4 against the very idea of Rapid Bus Transit in the state. The vote, which is oddly specific about its target – the Amp bus rapid transit (BRT) project in Nashville – was supported by the wealthy Koch brothers, Charles and David, and their group Americans for Prosperity. WIRED calls the ban "mind-boggling" and we have to agree.
The Amp is not dead yet, because the state House of Representatives still gets a say - would be a 7.1-mile BRT line running through Nashville at an expected cost of $174 million. Local business groups supported the public transportation option - the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce issued a call of support today - but there has been some local resistance and the project drew competing Facebook pages (pro and con). But it is the direct lobbying work by Americans for Prosperity and the broad language of the law that is what is raising eyebrows.
According to The Tennessean, "The Senate bill would block bus rapid transit not only there but in any other portion of the city. It would ban mass transit projects that load and unload customers in the center lane, a core element of The Amp's design." You can read the bill over at the Tennessee General Assembly website. Opponents say the BRT poses safety concerns since riders will have to cross half the road to get to the Amp. An Amp spokesman pointed out that regular bus riders sometimes have to cross the whole street in some instances.
A promotional video about the Amp BRT from last year is available below. Interestingly, the state Senate recently voted unanimously in favor of studying a monorail proposal for Nashville.