I’ve had a project for the past few weeks in Downtown Nashville. The bulk of the hard work is over and I’m now in the maintenance phase of the project. Each day I arrive at 7:30am and wait for the users to arrive. Around 10:00am, I’ve done all I can do to ensure everyone is up and running and I head off to go to other client sites. This is the most routine that I’ve had in a long time, at least where I had to be somewhere at a specific time. This change in perspective has lead me to thinking more about my transit habits and how I get to and fro.
There’s always been a bit of envy when I hear about people who commute to work every day with the luxury of taking public transportation. Of course, those of you reading this who take a train/bus/metro every day are probably scoffing at my use of the word “luxury”, but for those of us who don’t commute, it does have a certain allure. Taking a daily train to work conveys to me a sense of peace and calm. Something about letting someone else drive, while you focus on something else seems rather rewarding to me. So seeing that my schedule was such that I had the opportunity to experience a daily commute into Downtown Nashville, I was excited. The thought suddenly popped into my head that I could finally scratch the itch and see if it’s all that it’s cracked up to be.
Unfortunately, Nashville doesn’t have a subway. It does have one train, but it only goes East-West and I live in South Nashville. The only method of public transportation is the bus, but thankfully we have a pretty kick butt Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority, so taking the bus is an excellent option. I looked into all the routes to see which lines would work for me and how I could give this new method of transport a test drive.
One of the other projects that I have going on is in a suburb of Nashville called Cool Springs. Ideally I was thinking that I could take an express bus into downtown and then after 10am, I could hop a series of busses and make my way South. Unfortunately, the MTA only covers Davidson County. Cool Springs/Franklin is in Williamson County. “Oh, no problem”, I naively thought, “I’ll just take the Williamson bus south to Cool Springs.” There’s only one problem, there is no MTA for Williamson county.
For those of you reading this that aren’t familiar with Nashville, Williamson County is THE county to live in. They have the best schools and the average income is pretty high. It’s the premier county in Greater Nashville and given the high incomes it takes to live in towns like Brentwood and Franklin, you’d think that they would also have a public transit system to support the nannys, housekeepers, maids, what-have-you, that cater to that kind of lifestyle. Well, even the housekeepers must have their own luxury autos, because there is NO bus service in Brentwood.
There is a Regional Transporation Authority, but they only provide a series of open air busses that are designed to represent trollies in the Franklin area. I could get to Brentwood via bus, but I can’t get from Brentwood to Franklin unless I walk or bike. Seems ludicrous to me, but that’s the way it is here. You pretty much have to have a car to get where you want to go. There’s been talk of a light rail program, but nothing’s been started yet, so it’s the bus or nothing.
I knew that getting to Cool Springs was going to be a stretch. My original intention was to just get downtown. From there I can take Holly’s car (she works Downtown) and drive to Cool Springs. Just my morning commute in by bus will save us the cost of driving two cars and at least one trip into Downtown, so it’s still something that I want to try out.
So my plan is to take the 33X express bus into downtown every morning this week. I’ll let you know how it goes. 🙂
Mike, I almost wonder if a lack of transit system is precicely because Williamson County is so posh. No bus system because not many would use it, and it limits access to the area to cars-only drivers.
I too have enjoyed bus rides to downtown Milwaukee in my past working life — never did I read or sketch so much as when I rode a bus downtown. Makes me want to catch one downtown just to relive the glory days. 🙂
There is something addicting about riding the bus. Not having to watch the traffic or be on alert is restful and you can read a book or listen to your IPod in peace. My problem is I get out of the house too late to catch the bus most mornings.
Good luck with your commute!!
Many high-end suburbs limit or completely disallow mass transit; it’s not just a Nashville thing. It’s a legal and effective way of maintaining an area’s ‘character’ (or put less nicely, keeping the poor folks out).
One of the things we really like about San Mateo is not only are there a variety of mass transit options, there’s also a real, walkable downtown. Scott uses a combination of bike & train to get to his current job, and had the choice of either biking or a bus to his last gig.