Music City Star run between Nashville and Knoxville on weekends?

The bill, carried by Knoxville’s Rep. Eddie Smith in the House and Sen. Becky Duncan Massey in the Senate, would create special assessment districts in locations that could support rail or bus rapid transit systems.

The bill is only a piece of the project that, as proposed, would bring a light rail line service by way of an an existing rail line.

The legislation would set up new tax districts, similar in scope to Central Business Improvement Districts in areas like downtown Knoxville. If passed, the bill wouldn't mandate anything, but would allow for local decision makers to act.

Knoxville legislators pushing for rail transit to downtown

Music City Star

bizgrrl's picture

The legislation would set up

The legislation would set up new tax districts, similar in scope to Central Business Improvement Districts in areas like downtown Knoxville.
John Edwards, Norfolk Southern’s general director of passenger policy, said, in a Feb. 8 letter, that the deal wouldn't work.

“Light rail service involves use of equipment that is not appropriate for use on NS tracks,” he said. “Physical separation is required.”
“I’m trying to get my arms around where is the interest?” Mannis asked. “My concern is we don’t have any form of public transportation running there [to the airport] now.

“If we were running KAT buses out there and they were filled I would certainly be able to understand it a little better ... so I’m trying to figure out what he knows that I don’t know.”

Just not sure this is worth pursuing at this time. Would it be better to start with a bus system to these destinations to determine demand? Don't know.

Somebody's picture


Bus systems are not great models for determining demand for rail. Buses that get in the same traffic as you do will take longer to reach your destination, given that they must make extra stops, etc. As such, convenience takes a big hit as compared to getting in your car. Public transit with a dedicated pathway can bypass traffic, therefore its convenience gets a serious boost, and people who wouldn't get on the bus might get on a train. As such, bus ridership along a given route is probably not a very good predictor of potential rail ridership.

That doesn't mean that rail everywhere is necessarily a viable option, but you wouldn't expect to first see a bunch of profitable installations of pay phones throughout an area as proof that there could be demand for LTE cell phone coverage, would you? Presumably there would be better ways to assess potential demand.

jbr's picture

The only significant

The only significant ridership I can envision that might possibly utilize light rail in Knoxville area is ....

Downtown <-> West Town <-> Turkey Creek
Downtown <-> Sevierville
Downtown <-> Airport <-> Maryville<->Sevierville<->Downtown

Folks could stay in Knoxville/Maryville hotels and visit Gatlinburg during the day and vice versa

Seems like the last thing the Sevierville/PF/Gat area needs is more cars

It is a mess

Light rail could alleviate traffic and help business at hotels and restaurants, etc. in Knoxville/Maryville

Where is existing track with regards to those points?

bizgrrl's picture

Not a good comparison, but

Not a good comparison, but whatever.

Light rail is very expensive. Knoxville, IMO, is not ready. Nashville's metro population is more than twice the size of Knoxville and growing much faster. Orlando has the new SunRail with a metro population three times the size of Knoxville. Check out the Wikipedia info for SunRail. Check out some of the Plans and Agreements on the SunRail site.

Three years into service, "SunRail’s operating costs for the 2017 fiscal year were $36.3 million. Fares and passes totaled $1.96 million, or only about 5.4 percent of the operating costs."

Both Nashville and Orlando had better bus transit systems than Knoxville when rail was in consideration.

Treehouse's picture

Great idea

We definitely need alternative transportation around Knoxville. Let's support this.

michael kaplan's picture

How about a small electric or

How about a small electric or hybrid bus? I've never seen a traffic jam between the airport and downtown.

Running a frequent train on a track with grade crossings and through a rather heavily populated residential area (Vestal) doesn't sound like a great idea to me ..

Rachel's picture

The bill died in committee

The bill died in committee yesterday.

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