Last week, the Tennessee Senate voted 27-4 against the very idea of Rapid Bus Transit in the state. The vote, which is oddly specific about its target – the Amp bus rapid transit (BRT) project in Nashville – was supported by the wealthy Koch brothers, Charles and David, and their group Americans for Prosperity. WIRED calls the ban "mind-boggling" and we have to agree.

The Amp is not dead yet, because the state House of Representatives still gets a say - would be a 7.1-mile BRT line running through Nashville at an expected cost of $174 million. Local business groups supported the public transportation option - the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce issued a call of support today - but there has been some local resistance and the project drew competing Facebook pages (pro and con). But it is the direct lobbying work by Americans for Prosperity and the broad language of the law that is what is raising eyebrows.

According to The Tennessean, "The Senate bill would block bus rapid transit not only there but in any other portion of the city. It would ban mass transit projects that load and unload customers in the center lane, a core element of The Amp's design." You can read the bill over at the Tennessee General Assembly website. Opponents say the BRT poses safety concerns since riders will have to cross half the road to get to the Amp. An Amp spokesman pointed out that regular bus riders sometimes have to cross the whole street in some instances.

A promotional video about the Amp BRT from last year is available below. Interestingly, the state Senate recently voted unanimously in favor of studying a monorail proposal for Nashville.



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  • 37 Comments
      Joeviocoe
      • 8 Months Ago
      --"Opponents say the BRT poses safety concerns since riders will have to cross half the road to get to the Amp. An Amp spokesman pointed out that regular bus riders sometimes have to cross the whole street in some instances." Translation... "Opponents" that bring up these safety concerns, likely have never traveled more than 100 miles outside their home town. Becauase systems like that have been operating just fine in other cities... SF has lots of these light rail bus/trains running through the medians.
      eideard
      • 8 Months Ago
      What is there to say about inherited wealth in the hands of guys whose hobby is being a prick? David Koch funded computational analysis by a climate change "skeptic" - declaiming he'd follow whatever results the scientist found. He found the rest of science was correct and Koch Bros funding of so-called skeptics was illegitimate and harmful. David Koch didn't change his politics a jot. So, he wasted a couple hundred K$. A drop in the bucket.
      Marco Polo
      • 8 Months Ago
      " Koch Brothers are killing rapid bus transit in Tennessee". A very emotionally evocative headline, bound to get a certain percentage of readers pounding the upper case of their keyboard with indignant comments ! But what odes it actually mean ? An organisation, to which the Koch brothers belong, is opposed to the idea of the centre of the main though fare of Nashville becoming reserved for as a bus route. True, a bigger, shinier bus, but still a diesel powered bus, so the issues of the environment are irreverent. With only a 7.1 mile route, the bus isn't really a commuter service since it's not integrated with commuter transport to the dormitory suburbs. Just because the Koch Bros, oppose it, and it has the magic tag " public transport", doesn't mean that this scheme is automatically valid. An attempt to pioneer the first stage of a commuter rail system, 'the Music City Star ', is slowly beginning to gain patronage, after a doubtful start . (Oddly enough, the Music City Star', was support by Charles Koch). Although the State Capitol, Nashville has less than 630,000 residents. The outlying district has another 1million, so it's a relatively small US city. It's difficult to see what the fuss is all about, although this particular project may be of dubious value, the idea of light rail or trams, loading and unloading at city intersections from the centre lanes, is hardly new or revolutionary ! More than 100 cities around the world manage to do so perfectly safely. I can understand the opposition to this particular ill-conceived and impractical scheme, but not to the concept of banning centre lane loading for a fully integrated commuter system. The argument that it's dangerous is absurd, while the argument that it would increase traffic congestion and reduce assess to the city core needs further study.
        Spec
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Marco Polo
        "An organization, to which the Koch brothers belong..." Yeah . . . that is crazy. That is like calling Fox News "An organization, to which the Rupert Murdoch belongs..."
        HollywoodF1
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Marco Polo
        "An organization, to which the Koch brothers belong..." is a rediculous mischaracterization. I belonged to the Boy Scouts when I was a kid. The de facto assumption is that one is a small cog in a large machine when you word it like that-- and in passive voice, no less. Are you honestly insinuating that the Koch bros. role as Overlords in Chief of Americans for Prosperity can honestly be characterized as simply and passively belonging? And, no, I do not feel that I am exaggerating by calling them overlords. I can state that without the least bit of slant or irony, because it is a precice, true, accurate, and correct characterization of their relationship with that organization. The will of their organization is the will of the Koch brothers, and vice-versa. In logical terms, this means that the organization is defined by the Koch brothers. They rule with absolute authority and power. They founded the organization, they bankroll the organization, they steer the organization, they hide behind the organization; because in the end, they are the organization. "Belong" my ass.
          Electron
          • 8 Months Ago
          @HollywoodF1
          @ Edge: When I saw the title of this article I realized that I would probably find a lengthy comment by "marcopolo" whitewashing the Koch Brothers behaviour. I clicked the article and sure enough, there it was. What to make of a person who shows such predictable behaviour; is it a cyber shill or is it some sort of a troll? The only thing that's absolutely sure is that despite his claims we're not dealing with an "investment banker" here.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 8 Months Ago
          @HollywoodF1
          Well, i'm not the only person to have seen marco polo as an apologist for some of the worst folks out there..
          Marco Polo
          • 8 Months Ago
          @HollywoodF1
          @ GleninCA Certainly the citizens of Nashville are entitled to have their say. They do so at every election (well, those who bother to vote)! No amount of money, can replace well organised community electoral pressure. But just saying the project must be valid or 'morally' superior because the Koch Bros either oppose of support the proposal, is extremely shallow thinking. Nor am I an "apologist " for anyone if in my opinion a particular project lacks merit. Basing opinions of any project not by studying the value of the project, but on the ideology of those expressing support or opposition, is just mindless bigotry. @ 2 wheel menace. "Well, I'm not the only person to have seen marco polo as an apologist for some of the worst folks out there.." I'm not an " apologist " for anyone ! But nor am I so blinded by ideologically purity, that I must consider everything through a prism of " party political " correctness. If you're fair, you will have observed that none of those who criticise me, actually talk about the merits of the project itself, just their knee-jerk hatred of the Koch Bros.
          Edge
          • 8 Months Ago
          @HollywoodF1
          > Best guess is we are dealing with a particularly bizarre troll variant here." What a stupid thing to say. I don't agree with everything Marco says, but he certainly gives a good explanation here, which I kinda agree with. This article is such liberal bait, and many of you are falling for it. Read the comments in the WIRED article (link above in the article) comment section that begins as "Wait, this article seems intentionally misleading.".
          GleninCA
          • 8 Months Ago
          @HollywoodF1
          @MarcoPolo: "The Koch Bros, are certainly rich, but they are still American citizens and entitled to express political opinions. Should the possession of wealth disenfranchise a citizen?" How about we phrase that another way: "Should the LACK of wealth disenfranchise a citizen?" Because it appears that is certainly what is happening with this project being shut down by the Koch brothers massive amounts of money. Combined, the two brothers are the richest people in America. And with the Supreme Court essentially saying there is no limit to the amount someone can spend supporting or destroying a politician, the Koch brothers are able to buy A LOT of politicians. Sure the Koch brothers should be allowed to have a voice in our country. But shouldn't the residents of Nashville too?
          Marco Polo
          • 8 Months Ago
          @HollywoodF1
          @ HollywoodF1 'Overlords' , ! The Americans for Prosperity organisation has more than 103,000 members. It's true that both Charles and David Koch, were among the founders, but so were 2,000 people who attended the 2011 summit including Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Ron Paul, Sam Brownback, Mitt Romney, and Fred Thompson. Active among the founders was former congressman Dick Armey, Tim Phillips, Nancy Pfotenhauer,Luke Hilgemann and Vice President of State Operations Teresa Oelke.[11] James C. Miller, James E. Stephenson, Frayda Levy, Richard Fink, etc. None of these people think in terms of 'overlords'. The Koch Bros, are certainly rich, but they are still American citizens and entitled to express political opinions. Should the possession of wealth disenfranchise a citizen ? If the Koch bros were real overlords, in the same way as the hierarchy of the PRC, your remarks would not be published, and you would be the newest inmate of a Labour camp in Inner Mongolia. Either this project has merit or not, who supports it ,or who opposes it should not be the question, on the validity of their arguments.
          Electron
          • 8 Months Ago
          @HollywoodF1
          Note that the Koch brothers have been caught out on using professional sockpuppets to whitewash their behaviour on the web. I doubt "marcopolo"is one of them though but neither is he the "investment banker" or whatever other claim he has been making about himself over the years. People like that simply have completely different priorities in life than advocating the views of the rich and the powerful of this world on green car blogs. Best guess is we are dealing with a particularly bizarre troll variant here.
        CoolWaters
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Marco Polo
        "Local business groups supported the public transportation option". So an Out Of State Idiot gets to make your city policy. This is Oligarchy.
          Marco Polo
          • 8 Months Ago
          @CoolWaters
          @ CoolWaters I wasn't aware that you lived in Nashville, or even Tennessee........
      Technoir
      • 8 Months Ago
      When big oil money comes in from out of state and takes decisions against the community's will, then this is a corrupt oligarchy, no matter what you think of the project. The Kock brothers are a threat to what is left over of democracy.
      Spec
      • 8 Months Ago
      Really? Are they TRYING to be cartoon villains now? http://www.fernbyfilms.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/rogerrabbit5.jpg
        Spec
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Spec
        :-) I'm happy to see people got the reference.
      Edge
      • 8 Months Ago
      From WIRED comment section, seems the article is very misleading: The part that is quoted in the article stops where this actual amendment text starts (as seen in the embedded link in the article): "...unless the project to construct, maintain or operate such bus rapid transit system on the state highway or state highway right-of-way is approved by the governing body of the metropolitan government and by the commissioner of transportation; provided, that is any state agency proposes to assist in funding the project with state or federal-aid funds or otherwise requests such funds for the project, then the project must also be approved by the general assembly as evidenced by an annual appropriation." Am I misreading this bill, or is the article author intentionally misrepresenting what the bill does (either of these is possible)? It seems that the bill is saying that the bus rapid transit cannot be built UNLESS the construction and maintenance is approved by the metropolitan governing body and commissioner or transportation, which, doesn't seem far fetched.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 8 Months Ago
      Wasn't it Benito Mussolini that said that fascism is the merger of state and corporate power? That has described how our system has worked for about 200 years now. What Koch industries has done here is not new. Heavy Hitters: Top All-Time Donors, 1989-2014 ---v https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php What does this mean to you, autobloggians? It means that who you give your money to ends up resulting in votes that benefit said industry, which affects YOU at the end of the day. Stop buying oil. Go solar.. go EV.. if you can't afford that, buy the most efficient internal combustion car you can afford, ride a bike, a motorcycle, or whatever. Government isn't going to stop being corrupt - it's corrupt by design - the choices we make in our daily life are what we have control of. And if you drive a big V8 SUV or truck alone to work like 60% of America does, you have no right to complain about what the Koch brothers and oil industry is doing... you built them up and made them the monsters they are by handing thousands of dollars to them every year.
        Nick Kordich
        • 8 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        "Wasn't it Benito Mussolini that said that fascism is the merger of state and corporate power?" Nope. http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:Benito_Mussolini http://blog.skepticallibertarian.com/2013/02/07/fake-quote-files-mussolini-on-fascism-and-corporatism/ http://www.publiceye.org/fascist/corporatism.html
        Marco Polo
        • 8 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        @ 2 wheeled menace What does this bus use for fuel ? Yep, that's right, it's a Diesel powered vehicle ! So getting all excited by the name Koch Bros, seems a little strange when they're opposing something which you say would make them richer !
          Edge
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Marco Polo
          I've seen studies that show, pollution to be greater for bus going passengers than cars, cause many buses are not always full, and they burn diesel. Even with this understanding, buses are there for the public convenience, which holds the most weight in their consideration.
          Marco Polo
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Marco Polo
          @ Technoir That's kinda silly. The Koch brothers are primarily into Coal and Gas, not oil. I don't think a bus route of 7.1 miles would do much to 'cut into' oil profits ! In fact it may improve them by causing more idling ! Including the name Koch Bros, is just a journalistic bait to get a knee jerk reaction. (Incidentally, Charles Koch is a supporter of the Music City Star commuter train, which is a real competitor to cars, so your comment makes even less sense). There's no authoritative study that reveal the bus transit lane, would prove viable or popular, it may just cause more automotive congestion, while blocking the development of a better, more comprehensive public transport system.
          Technoir
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Marco Polo
          MP Of course not. A bus full of 100 passengers consumes much less oil than 100 cars. The Kocks are opposing it because the bus lanes are reducing the number of lanes available to cars, Cutting into their profits.
          Joeviocoe
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Marco Polo
          Most "diesel" buses are now "Diesel Hybrids"... and/or are running on at least 20% biodiesel. And many more are natural gas. I am sure the studies that show 'per passenger emissions' tend to cherry pick the worst buses. Either way, the solution should be smarter routes and schedules... and NOT to assume that adding a bus system is an idea worth blocking.
      Greg
      • 8 Months Ago
      THE KOCH BROTHERS DO AMERICA - the movie. Guaranteed to raise the hackles on the back of your neck - or else!
      Levine Levine
      • 8 Months Ago
      There's not a single taxpayer-supported bus company in the entire USA that earned a profit during the past 3 decades. These bus companies are "gravy train" for the owners who always advocate public transportation for the poor people.
        BipDBo
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Levine Levine
        Roads also don't make a profit. Probably not even any significant number of toll roads.
          Joeviocoe
          • 8 Months Ago
          @BipDBo
          Initial expenses are often subsidize or fully paid by tax payer money. I have explained why that is a good thing above in an earlier comment. However, the reason for ticket fares and tolls, is to cover the "operating expenses".... which they often do. Fuel, maintenance and labor costs are the operating expenses that are treated like a private business. While capital costs like purchasing buses, building bus stops, roadwork, signs, etc. are, and should be public works projects that are handled by tax payers. Even if you own a business and never use public transportation... your employees may, your customers may,... and those employees may want to be customers of some other business and those customers may have employment too. It baffles me how short sighted many conservative capitalists are when they are outraged at public spending. They think they live in this bubble where all of their wealth is "self-generated"... when the reality is that it trickles UP from consumers that use these public services.
          Levine Levine
          • 8 Months Ago
          @BipDBo
          The public/ State owns the roadway. Bus transportation company is privately owned, but subsidized by taxpayer. The CEOs of these bus companies are on a gravy train claiming to do good for the sake of helping the poor.
        Joeviocoe
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Levine Levine
        Mass transit is Never INTENDED to make direct profit. They enable economic growth on the scale of cities.... allowing workers to go to work, shoppers to go to stores, etc.... All of which grow the economy... and enable more tax revenue. Every bus company eventually WILL pay dividends... but cannot be easily measured.
        CoolWaters
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Levine Levine
        The alternative is to do nothing have live with larger and larger city congestion. Or build double decker streets. It's not just about profit.
          GleninCA
          • 8 Months Ago
          @CoolWaters
          @Levine Levine: "Let the free enterprise work." The only thing is, our country isn't (nor ever was) a complete free enterprise. While we do have a mainly free enterprise, we also have a mix of regulations and tax payer funded programs in order to benefit the greater good. That is why we have both public schools and private schools, Wall Street trading and Wall Street regulations, public roads and toll roads. In other words, our country is a mix of capitalism and (gasp!) socialism. And probably the sooner people recognize (and become okay with the fact) that we need both, the better off our country will be.
          Edge
          • 8 Months Ago
          @CoolWaters
          I actually advocate, four layers of overpasses, and dual layers of tunnels underneath, and gas masks for everyone to deal with the increased pollution. ;)
          Levine Levine
          • 8 Months Ago
          @CoolWaters
          Let free enterprise work. These taxpayer supported bus companies are preventing entrepreneurs who want to operate a private bus company. How can a private bus company compete against another whose fare subsidized?
      paulwesterberg
      • 8 Months Ago
      This is why we can't have nice things.
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