The Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, in partnership with area transit operators, has fabricated a more graphically-appealing way to convey the “bold, new vision for mass transit” from the 2035 Regional Transportation Plan. Today, the MPO released a greater-Nashville “route” map, illustrating the major transit-planning elements over the near, mid, and long-term – the style of which is based upon the now-ubiquitous passenger-wayfinding schematics used by world-class transit systems, such as the London Underground, New York City MTA, and D.C. Metro.
To download high-quality image files for the “Tube”-style Regional Transit Vision (PDF), or to access the Web-only interactive edition, which divides existing services from the illustrative vision and details corridor-planning work that’s been completed to date, visit www.middleTNtransit.org. The schematic emphasizes conceptual route alignments and stations for regional corridors, and is not intended to represent all existing or proposed services of area transit agencies like the RTA, Nashville MTA, Clarksville Transit System, Franklin Transit Authority, or the Murfreesboro Rover.
In December of 2010, mayors and county executives from across Middle Tennessee took a major step toward expansion and modernization of public transportation, when they adopted the MPO’s 2035 Regional Transportation Plan. Part of a comprehensive, multi-modal strategy to improve roadways and develop walkable communities, a major policy provision of the plan was its “bold, new vision for mass transit.” The Regional Transit Vision represents a comprehensive strategy for connecting greater-Nashville communities by deploying a combination of rapid transit, commuter rail, express coach, local fixed-route buses, vanpools, and rural paratransit services.
“This theoretical ‘route’ map is intended to help Middle Tennesseans imagine how they might navigate a hypothetical A-to-B trip on a fully-modernized regional transit system — if we were to invest in a connected system, built out to its full potential,” said MPO Executive Director Michael Skipper. “Certainly, our long-term projections demonstrate the need for a formidable investment in transit, and ‘last-mile’ facilities for transit like sidewalks and bikeways, given where we’re headed in terms of population and job growth, traffic congestion, and sprawling land-development patterns. It’s our hope that visually conveying what’s in the 25-year plan for transit – in a straightforward, appealing, accessible way – will inspire people to learn more, and then hopefully get involved in their local communities on implementing that plan.”
Significant planning work has been completed and published, or is currently underway, to prepare for improved transit along several corridors represented, including: rapid service to the northeast (terminus in Gallatin, Tenn.); extension of the Music City Star commuter-rail line to the northwest (terminus in Clarksville, Tenn.); high-quality BRT circulator service for the region’s urban core (“The Amp”); and rapid service to the southeast (Murfreesboro, Tenn.).
Full funding for the Regional Transit Vision is double or triple anticipated revenues. To qualify for competitive federal funds to build transit infrastructure, the region must next begin an exploration of how to address the present lack of dedicated funding for transit – funding that would ensure stability in the operations of existing (and proposed) levels of service. A modern transit system will be increasingly essential to Middle Tennessee’s future livability, when population growth and demographic shifts (increased diversity, aging Baby Boomers, more young professionals) will demand a major diversification of mode-choice, away from the majority Single-Occupant Vehicle way of traveling the region today.
For information on MPO efforts to support a transit system that will accommodate population and employment growth over the next 25 years, in a way that promotes livability, prosperity, and quality-of-life, visit NashvilleMPO.org/2035.
BACKGROUND – PRECEDENT TRANSIT SCHEMATICS
In 1933, the London Underground (locally known as the “Tube”) issued a multi-color, full-system diagram based upon station relationships rather than geographic scale. Harry Beck’s design concept –which simply described the affiliation between lines, interchanges, and stations– gained instant public approval by providing all the information one would need when traveling underground. “The physical distance from one station to the next is immaterial,” he said. Beck and the “Tube” developed what has become one of the most instantly-recognizable cartographic items in the world.
In 1972, the New York City MTA tasked designer Anthony Vignelli with simplifying navigation for America’s busiest rapid-transit system. To help streamline passenger wayfinding and bring New York into the future, he straightened MTA train routes into well-ordered angles and made a tidy diagram out of the actual snarl of criss-crossing tunnels. To this day, graphic designers laud Vignelli’s map as a triumph. “Every line is a different color, every stop a dot,” he said.
The MPO worked with Cambridge Systematics and Carticulate Maps to create the tube-style map, which it hopes will serve as a canvas for additional public input to help shape future transportation investments in Middle Tennessee.
The Nashville Area MPO is the federally-designated transportation planning agency for 2800+ sq. mi. and 1.5+ million people in Middle Tennessee. A regional partnership among the U.S. DOT, Tennessee DOT, elected leadership, planning and public works directors, the business community, and citizens across a five-plus county planning area, the MPO leads in the development of the region’s short, mid, and long-term transportation plans, and contributes to ongoing conversations about issues such as land use, economic development, climate change and the environment, safety and security, and health.