Nearly 80 area business leaders, elected officials, employees and citizens attended the Thursday, Feb. 8 Lunch & Learn offered by the Robertson County Chamber of Commerce.
The event, catered by Springfield’s Depot restaurant, was held at the Stokes Brown Public Library and addressed the transportation and mobility options in and around Springfield.
Guest speakers included Steve Bland, CEO Regional Transportation Authority; Jo Ann Graves, executive director Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee; and Carol Hudler, executive director Cumberland Region Tomorrow.
Robertson County Mayor Howard Bradley joined Chamber of Commerce president Margot Fosnes in welcoming the audience and guest speakers.
Bradley said the topic discussed during Thursday’s meeting was very important for Robertson County due to the amount of people who live in the county but drive outside of it for employment.
“There’s not a county in middle Tennessee that this issue is any greater,” Bradley said. “When you consider that more than 65-percent of us commute daily outside of Robertson County to work.”
In visiting area cities and counties, the Regional Transit Authority’s nMotion program is being highlighted as transportation authorities work to gather feedback from local citizens to see what types of transportation options are suited for their areas, according to Bland.
“We all need to work together for broader, regional goals so that we all thrive,” Bland said.
Graves emphasized the opportunities provided by the recently approved IMPROVE Act in allowing counties to move forward with various transit systems.
“It allows counties to control their own destiny,” Graves said. “If you decide to have a transit system in your county, you no longer have to go to the Legislature and ask them to approve the monies you may need for a transit system.”
Instead, Graves explained that Robertson County citizens can develop a transit improvement program, prepare a plan for raising new revenue for the proposal and then hold a referendum on it – once the referendum is approved by county leadership.
“This allows you to control your own destiny,” Graves said. “It’s the people that have the right to say, ‘We want it’ or ‘We don’t want it.’ That’s what democracy is all about.”
Graves encouraged the audience to form a citizens group within Robertson County and get a consensus from the group to discover the citizens’ top priorities regarding transit.
The nMotion presentation offered the following statistics:
- By 2040, the population of Middle Tennessee will exceed three million.
- The average monthly ridership of the Springfield/Joelton RTA bus is 1,500.
- Potential options communities are considering:
- Commuter rail
- Light rail
- Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) - designed to move bus riders along the city's busiest corridors faster than buses on local routes. The service offers more frequent service and fewer stops.
- Freeway BRT
- Express bus on shoulder
- Regional Rapid bus
- Frequent bus