“Yes, people in parts of North Nashville are being left out of it,” [East Nashville CM Scott Davis] told The City Paper the following day. “I’m not arguing that. But we have to remember that it’s also helping low-income residents in my neighborhood that are along the [route]....”I will not dispute the point that there are folks among East Nashville's working poor who will benefit from the exclusively east-west corridor. And I don't blame a CM for voting in what he perceives to be his constituents' interest. If only North Nashville council members had attempted to assert North Nashville's best interest instead of sitting quietly by when the Amp vote came before Metro Council.
“We forget those low-income people along that route have been left out of the conversation,” he said. “They work over there off of West End. And they don’t have some of the glamorous jobs, you know? A lot of them are in the maintenance part, or they’re working in the boiler room at Vanderbilt.”
If they’re driving to work, Davis said, many of those people struggle to pay the cost of parking. For many who use the current bus system — which must work its way through car traffic that The Amp, with its dedicated lanes, will avoid — getting off the job and making it to a day care, for instance, to pick up a child before extra charges start to kick in is a challenge.
“Not everyone low-income and in trouble hates The Amp, it’s just that they can’t make it to a 3 o’clock meeting or a 4 o’clock meeting to let people know,” Davis said.
What I do find fault with is perpetuating the perception that this corridor maximizes benefits for the masses of Nashville's workers or at least strikes a balance between the transportation needs of the working class and the profit motives of businesses to the west. Amp will subsidize the tourist industry with cheap transit for visitors and it is going to provide some attractive infrastructure improvements for West Nashville neighborhoods that do not need them as much other others.
I also find it curious that none of the low-income residents whom CM Davis claims it would help were interviewed for this news story. Regardless of the anecdotes, I would like to see hard numbers on how many of the working poor are going to benefit from this project vs. how many might be helped if it went farther north. Will more Vanderbilt undergrads take Amp to party Downtown and around East Nashville's Five Points than Vanderbilt workers ride it to work in boiler rooms?
Part of the problem here is that we are constantly promised that the more we spend on the tourism industry, the more will flow down to average Nashvillians in the form of infrastructure. With Amp, infrastructure suited more to the hotels, restaurants and venues that serve tourists seem to be replacing that promised to all our communities.