NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Nashville’s ever-growing traffic problem has city leaders trying to get drivers out of their cars and off the streets.
However there are plans for WeGo Public Transit to cut bus routes and raise fares.
Henry Magraff has been riding Metro’s buses for more than 10 years and, like so many others, relies on them to get him where he needs to go.
“I’d be in a tough position without it,” said Magraff.
He was frustrated after News4 told him the bus system is planning to cut routes and raise rates in the next fiscal year.
“They don’t need to do that,” said Magraff.
WeGo said its cost of operation is going up while its budget is not.
The public transit agency is losing $3.8 million in state funding in the next budget.
WeGo asked for $57.3 million in the 2020 budget. Mayor David Briley’s current plan gives them $48.6 million, leaving it with an anticipated $8.7 million budget shortfall.
WeGo announced plans to eliminate nine bus routes and reduce or alter more than 20 others. WeGo estimates 7,000 daily riders will be affected.
“Nobody can afford higher bus fares. It doesn’t make any sense,” said Magraff.
A spokesperson from WeGo said the agency is being very strategic about service reductions, avoiding cuts on the busiest routes.
The agency also plans to work with those affected to make sure they have transportation options like its para-transit service WeGo Access.
Riders like Magraff are convinced ridership, which the city has been trying to increase, will soon do the opposite.
“I don’t think people will take it. They’ll just find other ways to get to their destination,” said Magraff.
The current plan is to increase the base fare from $1.70 to $1.85.
If you would like to share feedback on the plans, WeGo will be holding a series of public meetings.
- Thursday, May 30, Nashville Public Library, Madison branch, 610 Gallatin Pike S., 5-7 p.m.
- Tuesday, June 4, Southeast Community Center, 5260 Hickory Hollow Parkway #202, 5-7 p.m.
- Wednesday, June 5, East Park Community Center, 700 Woodland St., 5-7 p.m.
- Thursday, June 6, Hadley Park Regional Center, 1037 28th Ave. N., 5-7 p.m.
- Monday, June 10, WeGo Central, second floor meeting room. 400 Dr. Martin L. King Jr. Blvd., 5-7 p.m.
- Tuesday, June 11, Lentz Public Health Center, 2500 Charlotte Ave., 5-7 p.m.
- Wednesday, June 12, WeGo Central, second floor meeting room. 400 Dr. Martin L. King Jr. Blvd., 5-7 p.m.
Briley spoke about cutting bus routes within the city before a campaign event on Tuesday night.
“The city maintained funding. The state caused some reduction. We were left with a choice of pay raises for our employees or cutting back on bus routes,” Briley said.
Even if the city got the nearly $4 million it got from the state, there would be a difference of more than $4 million.
A TDOT spokesperson said the $3.8 million the city received last year wasn’t cut from the state’s budget, $2.5 million was a grant the city won last year.
The grant is an annual competition and Nashville didn’t receive it this year.
The rest was given to the city from “Job Access Reverse Commute” funding, not TDOT.