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Taking transit to new places

A monthly column by TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely

A century ago, a trip to Nashville or Memphis might have taken days or even weeks for Tennesseans living in rural areas of the state.

tdot-logo-lgEven today, some of our residents remain isolated from our urban centers despite the advancements made in transportation. Some of these citizens don’t own cars, some may have disabilities that limit their independence, and others may have reached an age that they no longer feel comfortable driving themselves. Unfortunately, a lack of public transportation is limiting their ability to work, receive an education, and stay active in their communities.

Recognizing the gaps in service, TDOT is working to provide citizens in our rural communities better access to public transit.  In the coming week, we will award $3.6 million in federal funding to both public and private transit providers to create a new Intercity Bus Program. Our goal is to have an intercity bus service that offers set schedules and standard pick up and drop off locations across the state by the end of 2009.  This will mean better access for citizens in more places, but particularly in rural areas of the state.

These grant funds will help bring fixed route transit services to more than 40 cities and counties over the next two years.  The new fixed route transit lines will connect rural cities and counties to the closest city with intercity bus service.  New feeder services to Nashville, Cookeville, Jackson and Memphis should begin later this year.

Transit plays an important role in Tennessee’s transportation network and contributes significantly to the state’s economic health.  This new program will help fund bus lines to connect Tennesseans to jobs, schools, and community activities; assist seniors and people with disabilities remain independent; and help reduce congestion on our roadways.  More information can be obtained by contacting TDOT’s Division of Multimodal Resources at 615-741-2781 or by visiting www.tn.gov/tdot/publictrans/programs.htm .


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