Davis: BRT would help low-income residents in East Nashville

Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 12:59am

Before the Metro Council approved $7.5 million in initial funding for Mayor Karl Dean’s proposed bus rapid transit project last week, Councilman Scott Davis spoke up for a constituency that’s been left out of the discussion.

In recent months, much has been made — by council members, community activists and, indeed, the press — about the low-income areas along Charlotte Avenue and north of downtown that won’t see The Amp as it travels a 7.1-mile route down the West End corridor. But Davis sought to remind council members of poor neighborhoods in his East Nashville district that will benefit from transit upgrade.

“Yes, people in parts of North Nashville are being left out of it,” he told The City Paper the following day. “I’m not arguing that. But we have to remember that it’s also helping low-income residents in my neighborhood that are along the [route].”

It would be difficult to argue with his assessment. The Amp will run between St. Thomas Hospital, near some of the city’s most affluent neighborhoods, to the Five Points area in the core of trendy East Nashville. But between the Cumberland River and the route’s eastern endpoint are public housing communities and low-income apartments.

When people hear “Five Points,” Davis said, they think of hip bars and coffee shops in close proximity to increasingly valuable real estate. But a stone’s throw in the other direction lands in communities that rely on public transit, and for whom Davis said The Amp would be a welcomed boon.

“We forget those low-income people along that route have been left out of the conversation,” he said. “They work over there off of West End. And they don’t have some of the glamorous jobs, you know? A lot of them are in the maintenance part, or they’re working in the boiler room at Vanderbilt.”

If they’re driving to work, Davis said, many of those people struggle to pay the cost of parking. For many who use the current bus system — which must work its way through car traffic that The Amp, with its dedicated lanes, will avoid — getting off the job and making it to a day care, for instance, to pick up a child before extra charges start to kick in is a challenge.

“Not everyone low-income and in trouble hates The Amp, it’s just that they can’t make it to a 3 o’clock meeting or a 4 o’clock meeting to let people know,” Davis said.

7 Comments on this post:

By: i.am.a.taxpayer on 6/18/13 at 8:10

Do the low income people in East Nashville generally work on West End (instead of the rest of Davidson County)? Are the buses overly full when going from East Nashville to West End. There should probably be ways to get to places without going downtown, buying another ticket and getting on another bus to get to the destination.

By: Rocket99 on 6/18/13 at 8:25

Don't think the Metro bus system has ever been about convenience. What we really need is something that does not rely on surface streets and is reliable.

By: Nashvillesanity on 6/18/13 at 9:02

When did Mr. Hale start writing opinion pieces? "It would be difficult to argue with his assessment." How about I take a stab?

Excluding the Titans stadium and the 5 Points stop (in front of the bars/coffee shops) the proposed BRT route will only have two Main Street stops. One a half a block from the 5th and Main Citgo and another down the street in front of the Main Street Mapco.

A boon for the poor of District 5? Give me a break! All they'll actually do is lose some existing bus stops closer to home. I doubt Mr. Davis, in touting this "poverty transportation overhaul," has informed his constituents that of the 16 proposed stops on the BRT line only 3 are on his side of the river (Titans stadium doesn't count in my book.) The BRT line will do nothing to aid the working poor in Mr. Davis' district.

Shame on Mr. Hale and Mr. Davis for fluffing the mayor while they misinform the general public about wasting another 7.5 million dollars of our tax money.

By: bfra on 6/18/13 at 9:39

Karl Dean is not interested in helping the working poor or middle class in anything. He has made that quite clear often enough. Nor is he interested in education except as an "afterthought" if he thinks it might get a few votes.

By: BigPapa on 6/18/13 at 10:59

Dont you know that is how everything is done? You have to someone shoe horn whatever project you have into the idea that it will help "the poor", this sets up a great dynamic because anyone that comes out against your idea is not an elitist or even a racist!

Think about Titans Stadium and how they just stuck poor ol TSU in there just for that reason.

By: courier37027 on 6/18/13 at 12:15

If this BRT plan is to help low income East Nashvillians, then why does this proposed route avoid Settle Court and Shelby Avebue housing projects?

By: C.A.Jones on 6/19/13 at 11:05

It will give the low income people more opportunity to mug other passengers on the BRT. I don't see the problem with this.