MTA Projected to Lose $2.25 Billion in the

Next 14 Years- on Current Bus Routes ONLY

From Better Transit for Nashville reports; MTA Audits (2015-2017); national light rail data,, American Transportation Association.

NASHVILLE – Public transit is declining nationally as technology changes how we travel, commute and live. Nashville’s local bus agency, the MTA, will lose a staggering $2.25 BILLION from 2018 to 2032.

Yet, Mayor Megan Barry is pushing  a $9 billion transit plan created by the very group mismanaging Nashville’s transit service, the MTA, and a group of small-town mayors, for a sector that is dying and will be obsolete due to fast-changing technology.

Public transit is declining at 3.5% a year nationally and 3% or more a year in Nashville. Today, MTA’s ridership is 2% of commuters. By 2032, MTA bus ridership on the current routes – 96 routes in all – will be 1.25% (see chart below).

Light rail, nationally, has approx. 1-2% ridership of commuters. Therefore, the NTIP plan, when completed in 2032, will have, according to the American Transportation Assn, at best, 2.75%. A $9 billion, 15-20 year build out, the biggest government project in state history and one of the biggest per capital in national history, to increase ridership by less than 1% point? It is shocking – and scary for Nashville citizens.

We need a good bus system. We all agree on that. It is clear the current bus system needs to be improved. But the reality is, light rail is obsolete before it is even built and does not reduce traffic congestion.

MTA’s shocking $2.25 BILLION in losses does not even include the new build out. History repeats itself. Government agencies continue their mismanagement. It all means disaster for the NTIP transit plan.

MTA Lost $286 Million from 2013 to 2017 & $70 Million in 2017. Each of the past two years, MTA has had a 10% increase in losses. The data below reveals that, if the NTIP plan is built, by 2032, MTA will also lose $1 billion in the FIRST THREE YEARS of operation, from 2033-2035.

Based on MTA’s own data, Metro Nashville taxpayers will pay $1.23 BILLION cash into the MTA bus agency During the 14-Year transit build out – the same agency which created the plan and WILL BE MANAGING IT. It is stunning but true.

The losses are staggering. The cost to taxpayers off the charts. If MTA public transit operating results are the same with NEW services, losses will be even greater and higher.

Public transit is declining. MTA is failing. Yet, instead of working to improve and fix the bus system, the Mayor is pushing a $9 billion transit plan created by the MTA and the mayors from towns outside of Davidson Co.

In the past five years, 2013-2017, Nashville taxpayers have paid $154 million to keep MTA operating.

Metro pays approximately 54% of MTA’s operating budget, which was $77 million in 2016. In that year, Metro paid about $42 million to MTA. The feds and the state pay 23% of the budget; $17 million in 2016. MTA began in 1973.

Summary of MTA’s Operating Budget and Losses:

From the table below, according to the MTA audit, 2017 fiscal year loss was $69.4 million, a 10% increase in losses from the 2016 loss of $63 million (7% increase in expenses; 3% decrease in revenue). Revenue in 2017 was about $14 million, while expenses were $83 million, 8% higher than in 2016.

The big issue is MTA’s staggering projected losses of $2.3 billion – and that the Mayor is spending $9 billion on dying and grossly mismanaged public transit. The losses (chart above) are summarized below in the 2018-2032, year-on-year losses, which are based on the last three years Operating Losses and percentages of declining ridership and increasing expenses.

What’s worse, based on MTA’s track record, mismanagement, ineptitude, and, moreover, 3%/year declining ridership, the losses with the new nine (9) routes – four bus & five light rail – could make the $2.3 billion figure much higher – and likely will. Metro, the state and the feds will have to continue to pump money into public transit which does not lessen traffic congestion and serves a very small percentage of commuters. Higher losses than the $2.3 billion are a very realistic scenario.

MTA currently has 96 total Bus Routes in Davidson County, plus the Music City Star. The NTIP adds four express bus lanes and five light rail lines on five state-owned main roadways. Let’s be generous and assume that the nine (9) new additions replace nine (9) current bus routes completely, which actually is not the case but we will assume that.

There are still 87 Bus Routes- 91% of the MTA Bus Service- that continue the same. Moreover, Metro is INCREASING MTA’s current budget and adding bus routes and services every year, which are NOT included in the 14-year projections of losses. Also, the 14-year projections do not include the NTIP’s NEW Operating Expenses of $100 million (Tables 6 and 14, NTIP Plan).

How will MTA look during the next 14 years? History repeats itself. Government bureaucracy continues unchecked – unless voters stop the NTIP plan. During the 14-year buildout, MTA’s 96 Bus Routes and services will continue just as they have been for years, with new services being added.  Slowly over time, 14 years total, express lanes are added and light rail lines are added. The current 90-95 MTA bus routes and services continue on virtually like they are in operation today. If anything, the lanes and rail lines add more operating losses to the already massive losses.

The chart below reveals that ridership is projected to be 1.25% in 2032.