Bright green hybrid buses will begin circling Nashville’s urban core on Monday, picking passengers up for free, as Metro Transit Authority’s new downtown circulator officially opens.
With its arrival, Metro leaders hope to spark greater interest in public transit in a city that’s often lagged behind others in terms of transit options.
The Music City Circuit, as it’s called, is the product of federal stimulus dollars that paid $500,000 each for two 40-foot hybrid buses and five smaller $100,000 versions. Next week, the buses will become part of two separate downtown routes available to commuters free of charge.
“We think this will expose more people to public transit and will also serve the needs of folks just moving around downtown,” MTA Executive Director Paul Ballard said. “It’s a two-pronged effort.”
The green circuit moves east to west, making stops at various points between Riverfront Park and The Gulch neighborhood, while the blue circuit runs north to south and extends to Bicentennial Mall. Both are open Monday though Saturday.
The blue circuit will stop offering rides by 6 p.m. each night, but buses along the green circuit won’t stop until midnight. Pick-up times are every 30 minutes in the morning, and every 10 or 15 minutes in the afternoon and evening.
“This new downtown bus circulator is a significant step toward making our existing mass transit more convenient,” Mayor Karl Dean said. “And the best part of this is it’s free.”
The seven buses are considered state-of-the-art. They contain wider aisles than conventional buses, run smoother and quieter, and utilize bright LED signs on the exterior for easy readability. In addition, the hybrid buses are designed to reduce fuel consumption by more than 40,000 gallons each month.