Easy rider: Music City Circuit Runs Circles Around Downtown Traffic
Public transportation, like telecommunications, too often suffers from the Last Mile Problem. That is to say, when it comes to bus travel or Internet connectivity, it can be relatively efficient to send vehicles or cables to a larger hub, but it gets more complex and expensive to extend service aong the final stretch -- the proverbial Last Mile -- to reach an individual client.
Usually, the Last Mile refers to the challenge of reaching rural customers, who may live miles — literally — from a main cable. When it comes to the issue of public transportation in Nashville’s downtown district, it’s not so much an issue of the Last Mile as it is the Last Few Yards. If you’re dressed in heels and a suit and have to walk from bus stop to final destination in 100-degree heat or driving rain, those last few yards can feel like a mile. It’s enough to make you reach for your keys and grab some change for the parking meter. That’s where the Music City Circuit can help. The free bus service makes frequent stops at 75 downtown locations, solving much of the Last Mile Problem for urban dwellers and visitors who want to operate without the hassles of driving and parking a car. Founded two years ago, Music City Circuit runs clean diesel hybrid buses on three short loops radiating from Riverfront Station. Since all three circuits stop near the foot of the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge, Music City Circuit can simplify parking for Titans games, no matter which of the three loops you choose. For other traveling needs, consider these paths.
Green Circuit: The Gulch
Running east west between 12th Avenue and the Cumberland River, the Green Circuit is what you need if you’re traveling between the Gulch and Lower Broad, from, say, Turnip Truck to Hatch Show Print,or from Whiskey Kitchen to the Ryman. When Deb Paquette’s restaurant, etch, opens in the Encore, you can get from there to Union Station on the Green Circuit. When the Southern steak house and oyster bar opens in the Pinnacle Tower, you can get from there to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. This bus is the one all you young urban professionals can take from your lofts in the Gulch to your offices in the AT&T and SunTrust towers.
Runs every 30 minutes, 6:30 to 11 a.m. and every 15minutes 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Blue Circuit: Bicentennial Mall
Running north on Fifth Avenue and south on Fourth Avenue — but stopping service earlier in the evening than the Green Circuit — this loop connects the Arena to the Farmers’ Market, and Printers’ Alley to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Want to get from AM@FM to TPAC? Blue is your color. Hilton Hotel to the Arcade or Capitol Grille? Go blue.
Runs every 30 minutes, 6:30 to 11 a.m. and every 15 minutes 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Purple Circuit: Richard H. Fulton Complex
With a much more limited schedule than its sister circuits, the Purple Circuit serves the administrative complex that houses the former Howard School. Starting at Riverfront Station, the bus heads south on Hermitage Avenue, past Rachel Lehman’s exquisite little coffee shop, Crema, before turning right onto Lindsley and ducking between the Richard H. Fulton Complex and the Nashville Children’s Theatre, and ultimately returning to the station. It’s a path that could simplify a trip the Fulton complex to renew your driver’s license. The again, once you see how convenient public transportation can be, you might not be in hurry to get behind the wheel of your own car.
Runs every 15 minutes, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.