January 31, 2013

IBM report targets areas for Nashville transportation growth

A new IBM study of transportation in Nashville and the surrounding region outlines recommendations to accelerate its move to better, safer and more reliable transportation for the region’s citizens. 

The report, released by the Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee and IBM, pinpoints areas that could benefit from immediate investment and would help relieve current stress. It also identifies long-term initiatives that could help spur future economic growth and livability in the region.

The Transit Alliance commissioned IBM to analyze transportation networks across the region and identify initiatives that could reduce congestion and stress on Middle Tennessee’s current infrastructure. IBM was also tasked to provide a roadmap of complementary long-term transportation initiatives to support Middle Tennessee’s rapid growth and enhance its livability. The report recommends five strategic areas of focus: mobility, communication and coordination across jurisdictions; tools for travelers; public education and outreach; and operational improvements.

High-impact, short-term recommendations include:

• Identifying new express bus and bus rapid transit (BRT) routes and act on planned routes. New routes in “transit deserts” would reduce commute times, create better access to jobs for residents across the region.

• Creating a universal fare card system to make it easier for citizens to travel between different cities and use multiple modes of regional transit.

• Improving transit access to and from Nashville International Airport with a focus on modes of transportation that appeal to business travelers and tourists.

• Using public/private partnerships to aid completion of short-term transportation improvements.

The report recognizes that Middle Tennessee is positioned to be a Smarter Transportation leader when compared to U.S. and international cities with comparable populations. The region has above average expertise in incident management and planning and parity with similar sized regions in transportation network response time, performance measurement, communication with travelers and how it is integrating its data — from road sensors, traffic lights, route schedules, etc. — into its operations. The region can use these strengths to accelerate improvements in how it manages the demand for transportation assets like parking and frequency of mass transit, more consistent payment methods and customer management.

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