Empty bus seats on routes that cost taxpayers millions of dollars. That's what a News4 I-Team investigation found.

It comes on the heels of Nashville voters rejecting a 5.4 billion dollar transit plan.

The I-Team's Lindsay Bramson shows you the video that has some questioning if more transit is the answer.

There's something Linda Henderson can't help but notice about her daily commute.

“There's usually less than 5 people on it,” Henderson said.

And a News4 I-Team investigation found her situation isn't unique.

Route after route with empty seats. All while taxpayers pay millions for these routes.

“There are many times when I was coming back from a play at TPAC and I’m the only one on the bus,” said Rae Keohane who was against the transit plan.

News4 found one bus, which runs along West End avenue empty for more than 30 minutes.

On the Grassmere-Edmondson route, it was empty for 19 minutes before someone finally got on. And that was during morning rush hour.

Take a look around. You can see there are two people on the Grassmere-Edmondson bus.  And the News4 I-Team found out it costs $970,000 a year…of taxpayer money.

There are 7 routes MTA considers their lowest performing routes.

In fact, the News4 I-Team found the most expensive one is the University Connector costing taxpayers $1.4 million a year.

Look at what it looked like when we were on it.

It's why Keohane, who was against the transit plan and attended all the MTA meetings about it, calls it a waste of money.

“That's inexcusable when you consider the fact they're so underutilized,” said Keohane.

Bramson asked, “What do you say to people who say it's a waste of taxpayer money? All I can say is we are working to improve that and make it more efficient,” said Amanda Clelland with the WEGO Transit Authority, formally known as Nashville MTA.

The transit authority is currently examining routes to see which routes may have too few riders. But then there's this problem. Take away the route, and what happens to the riders?

“That's still a service those people, and they may only be the one or two people on that bus but they rely on that bus,” said Clelland.

Of course, there are times when the buses are packed.

Like the bus running along Dickerson Road on a busy Friday afternoon.

But when you see the ones sitting empty, how can you convince a city that tax dollars need to fund more transit?

“This is like any public service.  You invest a little for the people in greatest need. What if that person who's using this for job access right now going to do if we take away this option? What if they can’t afford a car,” said Metro Councilman Freddie O’Connell.

Henderson knows there are often very few people on her bus. But without it, she'd be in trouble.

“I wouldn't have any way to get groceries or anything unless I took a bus,” said Henderson.

Copyright 2018 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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