The NTIP Transit Plan
A Case Study in: Irresponsibility, Ineptitude, Waste, Taxation, Mismanagement, Financial Destruction, Conflict of Interest, Deception, Fraud, Corruption & Ego
NOTE: At end of this article, there is a short summary of the NTIP light rail plan.
Rail in Nashville makes no sense. (What does make sense? A strong bus system; technology; BRT & express bus lanes; widening roads; and much more, but not light rail or a tunnel.) There are many reasons light rail is not effective as a public transit model. Moreover, Nashville’s 1.8 M population and large land area – 525 sq/miles, 5th in the nation – render light rail useless for the next 100 years. Even in mega-cities, with dense populations, light rail NEVER reduces traffic. Why? Read the home page summary, “NTIP: Reasons to Vote No.” Moreover, the five (5) roadways with planned light rail have only four lanes, not six, with rail ELIMINATING three lanes or more. The result is disaster for these five (5) primary roadways in Nashville. The NTIP plan IN NO WAY addresses the loss of lanes and the new incapacity of the altered roads to move traffic. If Nashville gets light rail, Nashville will break the national and international records for the lowest population density of any city in history to have light rail.More below.
Even worse – yes it gets worse – RE the tunnel. It will be 182 years – the year 2200 – before Nashville’s CSA reaches the average population level of the mega-cities which have underground transit. That is nine (9) generations away.
The tunnel is tied to the light rail plan. So, the real issue is light rail. btw, the seven U.S. (7) cities with underground transit have avg PD of 14,000, while Nashville’s is 1,200.; avg. populations of 10.5 million to Nashville 1.8M.
Light rail is inefficient and used by only a few. But some cities at least were rational by starting with one light rail line of ten miles (Charlotte, NC). Cities with double the population of Nashville have one line (St Louis). Their light rail line still has very limited ridership, and a bus system is far more effective as a public transit model and in helping ease traffic. Light only benefits the egos and bank accounts of the politicians and rich businessmen who implement it.
The plan was created by the local Metro bus agency, MTA, a small (five exec. staff), failing bus service, and a group of mayors from small towns OUTSIDE OF DAVIDSON CO., who do not live in Nashville. What? Is this a joke? The Metro Council wanted to be involved in the process of creating the transit plan; the Mayor did not include them.
Public transit is declining. Light rail does not work. Even in 100 years, Nashville will never need an underground tunnel. Yet, Nashville’s mayor is planning a $9 billion, 15-year light rail & tunnel build out. The current local bus service will lose $2.2 BILLION during that time – just on the current service, not any of the new services. The total bus and light rail ridership in 2035 will be 46,042 people; divide $8.9 billion by 46,042 to get the cost per rider: $193,301. This $193K figure does not include the massive annual losses of the MTA bus agency ($70 million in 2017; MTA audit) and increasing at 10% per year.
Metro would add four (4) new taxes to pay for part of the plan. A bond would pay for the super-expensive – $6 billion+ – light rail. The four taxes are: 1% increase in sales tax, causing Nashville to have the highest sales tax in the nation: 10.25% (tied with Chicago); small business tax increase of 20%; another hotel tax; and a rental car tax.
MTA bus service has lost $286 million in the last five years and has 10% increases in losses per year. In fiscal 2017, MTA self-funded 16% ($13M) of its budget of $83M. The NTIP plan projects that MTA will self-fund 23% of its operating budget in 2032, when the report states that expenses will be $100 million/year. Yet, the Mayors transit team tells the public that “people will be able to ride the light rail for free.”
Acc. to municipal finance experts, the bond financing to pay for $2.5 billion of the light rail is “dangerous” and “scary.” The bond begins in 2023 and is paid off 42 years from now. By 2031, Nashville taxpayers will be paying $166 million just on debt service. It will compromise and threaten Nashville’s economy for generations.
The Mayor’s office pushed to have the referendum read and include the cost of “$5.4 billion.” The plan itself says the actual cost is “8.9 billion.”
Six days before the press conference and announcement of the one percent sales tax increase (mid Oct 2017), the pro-Mayor and pro-transit Chamber released a study by the “Chamber Research Center.” The “study” claims that 47% of sales tax is paid by people from outside the county. In reality, it is impossible to determine this percentage, because sales tax is in no way tracked by zip code. A analysis of tourism’s and visitor facts – such as 400,000 visitors per day, almost triple the actual number – shows tourists’ spending is 14.6% of the county sales tax.
Currently, there are two ongoing investigations of Megan Barry into whether she violated criminal law including misappropriation of public funds and official misconduct. The Metro Council appointed a special committee with subpoena power to investigate whether there was improper use of public money during Mayor Megan Barry’s affair with her former top security officer.
Summary of NTIP
If NTIP’s $9 billion, 87% of the costs, expenses, and funding is for light rail, which travels at 15 mph, slows with stops at every stop, and has a station at beginning and end of the line.
The five (5) lines are on approx. five (5) miles of: Gallatin Rd, Murfreesboro Rd., Nolensville Rd, Charlotte Ave., and Northwest Corridor.
The tunnel will be from 5th & Lafayette to the downtown Music City Bus Station, to carry people and buses to and from the station to the rail line.