NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Metro Transportation Licensing Commission voted on Thursday to recommend that Metro Council reduce the number of entertainment transportation vehicle (ETV) permits that can be issued every year.
After a presentation from the Nashville Department of Transportation (NDOT) regarding the Connect Downtown study of downtown traffic, the commission decided that only giving out 35-70 ETV permits a year would improve congestion.
ETVs include party buses and sightseeing tours.
The Connect Downtown study found that allowing for 80 ETVs on the roads “results in an average delay increase of approximately eight seconds per vehicle on weekdays and 10 seconds per vehicle on Fridays.”
At a previous meeting, a representative from the study explained that the eight seconds is cumulative.
“You get at a stoplight, that’s another two seconds. You get behind a slow moving vehicle, that’s another two seconds. You get behind another, that’s another two seconds,” said NDOT Director Diana Alacorn, using an example of a lower than average delay.
Considering the study found that the largest increase occurred when there were 40-50 ETVs on the road, NDOT recommended the commission limit ETV permits to 40.
However, ETV business owners and their lawyers said they have already spent thousands of dollars to comply with the latest permitting and compliance rules; many of them have committed zero offenses, and cutting dozens of permits puts people’s livelihoods at risk.
“The financial burden on all of these people, it’s difficult for these people to sleep at night,” said one ETV business owner.
A lawyer for another operator said these vehicles are being blamed for a complicated issue and more research is needed.
“What is really the problem with traffic downtown? Is it the ETVs or is it construction? Are there other factors going on? I think y’all don’t truly know enough to reduce the number of permits today,” she said.
And while one commissioner agreed with this argument, others said that ETVs seem to be playing a role in downtown congestion, so reducing the number of them on the roads will help.
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Some downtown residents and business owners who see the ETVs as a nuisance said reducing the number driving down Broadway will help improve their lives.
“If our patrons manage to get downtown to the Schermerhorn, they are assaulted by the noise and drunkenness of ETV riders,” said a representative from the Nashville Symphony.
However, the final decision will be left up to Metro Council. Council is not expected to take up the issue for another year.