WeGo Public Transit’s Park & Ride helps to ease traffic by taking cars off the roads.
But key to the service — parking lots — are seeing a strain.
Serving Rutherford County are three lots where dozens of commuters park daily and ride by bus into Nashville.
“For this particular route 84X, we have about 70 passengers in the morning, 70 passengers afternoon – that’s 70 cars that aren’t on 24 commuting into Nashville,” said Amanda Clelland, WeGo Public Transit Spokesperson.
But late last week, one of those lots at North Boulevard Church of Christ, opted out of an agreement to share its space.
“That served approximately 14 commuters day in and day out,” said Clelland. “Unfortunately it can sometimes happen very last minute as is with this situation.”
Clelland said it’s a reoccurring problem that happens about twice a year with the 20 Park & Ride lots in and around Metro Nashville.
“As the region is growing and developing,” said Clelland. “Some of those agreements do fall through and that’s when we have to come in and identify new locations.”
The issue is the Park & Ride lots are on a volunteer, non-binding basis.
Basically, churches and businesses volunteer part of their parking lots for commuters to park then bus to work.
Many of the agreements began before the growth of Nashville and surrounding areas.
“That is just not a sustainable way to do business and we want to be able to do better for our customers and our riders,” said Clelland.
The solution Clelland said will come from a Park & Ride study currently underway.
“It’s going to help us to really identify where there is a need for dedicated fixed infrastructure park-and-ride along various commuter corridors,” said Clelland.
Next, the goal will be to work with local elected officials and business owners to see available lots and then enter into a formal agreement for a set amount of time.
“Then either enter into contracts or if the funding situation is right, actually be able to purchase or lease that land,” said Clelland. “It’s more than just a handshake that’s allowing people to park there.”
Clelland said the Clarksville Park & Ride off Exit 11 is an example of a WeGo-owned lot that’s a sustainable model.
Commuters who used the church lot on North Rutherford Boulevard are advised to use the existing Old Fort and MTSU campus.
As for a replacement location, Clelland said WeGo is scouting shopping centers around Highway 96.