Public transportation options grow in Tennessee

Written by: Joanna Stathopoulos, former intern for Middle-West TN Clean Fuels

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Do you ever feel stuck within Tennessee, wanting to use public transportation, but having no means of reaching it?

Many are unable to utilize much of the public transportation within Tennessee due to inadequate infrastructure and inaccessibility.

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Tennessee’s rapid transit lines, bus systems and trains have quite a walk to reach them, especially for those living in a sprawling city such as Nashville and Memphis.

Weather, health conditions, time restrictions, long walking distances or safety concerns can often deter many from reaching a public transportation pickup location.

Although systems do not allow for transit to reach every doorstep, a ‘first-mile last mile’ mobility solution program is being created to conveniently connect riders to transit stops just out of their reach.

Transit services are beginning to eliminate the ‘one mile’ you might have to walk to reach public transportation through partnering with ride-hailing companies such as Uber or Mobility Solutions. Vehicles will be sent through online or mobile booking options. This connects people to the nearest or most convenient public transportation stop.

Connecting riders to on-demand transit programs can help impact thousands of lives by increasing access to jobs, healthcare, education and other social services to communities with poor transportation infrastructure.

One such transit service is WeGo Link, a branch of the Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority (otherwise known as Nashville MTA). WeGo Transit is helping connect people to increased transportation opportunities by offering comprehensive services to Nashville’s neighborhoods through WeGo Link, a rideshare resource for riders who find getting to and from their bus stop challenging.

“This program is just as accessible as a regular fixed-route service, specifically targeting low-income customers and customers with disabilities,” Dan Freudberg, Deputy Chief Operating Officer at WeGo Transit, said.

First-time users are required to download a reusable Uber voucher that will help minimize the often-steep expense of an Uber ride. WeGo is also offering Mobility Solutions as a rideshare connection. Mobility Solutions is best for riders who use a wheelchair or other mobility aids, riders who would like to use cash for their trip or riders who are 17 years old or younger.

The WeGo Link service will be offering short, on-demand rides to and from two Route 55 bus stops along Murfreesboro Pike in Antioch for as little as $2 per ride.

Rides must begin or end at the Nashboro Village or Bell Road stops and continues within the outlined area on the map provided on WeGo Transit’s website.

According to Felix Castrodad, Director of Planning and Grants at WeGo Transit, this area was a “tier one area of priority,” and, in the future, WeGo will be looking at expanding this service to “other areas that meet similar characteristics.”


The second transit service is Ready! by MATA, the Memphis Area Transit Authority.

Ready! by MATA is a convenient curb-to-curb transit option that provides people with a ride-hailing service that will pick up and drop off anyone within the Ready! service areas with no advanced reservation required.

Links provided on the MATA website allow one to view maps of each service zone and see their location accessibility. The service zones include Southwest Memphis, Narthaven/Frayser and Cordova.

“The Southwest Memphis area was only one of the communities that were identified in MATA’s vision,”Mia Harvey, Communications Specialist at MATA, said.

With transit being a top priority issue, MATA is continuing to improve transportation options and provide increased accessibility to Tennessee communities.

Since this service is still in the early stages, rides will be available for free until Spring 2022.

One is able to book a ride through the Go901 mobile app or through a simple phone call to the service. Transit vans are accessible and comfortable, available to people with disabilities and can transport up to 8 passengers.

Within their specified locations, WeGo Link and MATA are attempting to act as first-mile/last-mile connectors, offering paratransit accessibility and flexibility.

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