|More like: "moving for whom?"|
Since last year, community leaders have asked the Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) to extend the Amp route to North Nashville, which has one of the largest concentrations of blacks in the Mid-South region. North Nashville also has a historic tie to unjust transportation policies, most notably the Interstate 40 development that dislocated scores of residents, churches and businesses in the 1960s.
Many North Nashville neighborhoods are under-resourced and need better transportation options. The community also has a high number of hospital workers, renters, senior citizens, disabled residents and college students, all of whom could benefit from an Amp stop. However, MTA officials rejected pleas for an Amp terminal in North Nashville in the initial phase of the project. This snub could lead to a system of transportation apartheid in which some communities receive the bulk of transit investment — in this case, more than a $1 billion for neighborhoods in the Amp corridor — while others such as North Nashville are rendered invisible.
In February 2011, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) sent a civil rights team to Nashville to assess whether the MTA was following federal civil rights law. The two-day visit occurred during the initial phase of the Amp design. In their visit, the FTA officers were shown routes in West, East and Southeast Nashville. Yet, for unexplainable reasons, the MTA did not allow them to visit North Nashville. This was yet another example of how communities such as North Nashville are treated as if they are invisible.
That last paragraph is galling. It is shameful that transit leaders intentionally ignored North Nashville on the question of lawful access to transit. It also casts a pall on the arguments of east-west corridor supporters who say they honestly believe West End is a better choice without any reference to MTA's shoddy treatment of North Nashville on a question of civil rights.
The shameless roll out of an east-west rapid transit corridor is the extension of the historic injustices that do not disappear with new generations leaders. While some local progressives attempt the tortured logic of scolding the Mayor for wanting to govern "the fun parts" while absolving him of responsibility for extending the time-honored, sanctioned neglect of North Nashville, Sekou Franklin reminds us that this BRT transit policy, in doing nothing to break from an infamous tradition, is the natural extension of that tradition. The link is not so easily severed just because Mayor Karl Dean is an odds-on jolly for taking down a Republican in a hypothetical run-for-office.
No degree of public relations can cover up the wounds reopened for some in North Nashville. You can pat your progressive self on the back all you want about supporting transit and helping some boiler room workers exit West Nashville faster at quitting time to access the same slower, lesser infrastructure they know all too well along points north. But liberal preening will not alter the reality that AMP extends Nashville's legacy of unequal development, and it serves disproportionally white, affluent communities before any other.
As such, it is transportation apartheid. Sekou calls it out for exactly what it is.