What? Blocking Mass Transit?

In Tennessee, the state Senate just passed a bill that effectively bans mass transit projects in the state, and they aren’t the only state that’s doing it.

An amendment which passed with the bill (SB 2243), "prohibits metropolitan governments and any transit authorities created by a metropolitan government from constructing, maintaining or operating any bus rapid transit system using a separate lane, or other separate right-of-way, dedicated solely to the use of such bus rapid transit system on any state highway or state highway."

What could possible be the purpose of such a bill? You’ll have to ask the Koch Brothers, but it probably has to do with oil …

Nashville is planning to spend $174 million on Amp – a rapid bus system that would travel through the heart of the congested city, providing a fast, convenient, affordable alternative to traveling by car. It is staunchly opposed by Americans for Prosperity (AFP), which pushed through the amendment. Amp would be the first leg in a regional transit system, which may give clues as to why they are so against it.

Bus Rapid Transit Amp

"It’s pretty tough to fight that kind of money – AFP gets funds from the Koch brothers," Holly McCall, spokesperson for Nashville’s Metropolitan Transit Authority, told ThinkProgress.  She says they’ll work toward a compromise with them because otherwise, "our entire future transit plan is going to be dictated by people who live out of state."

The project has been under development for five years and is absolutely necessary for economic development, she says. The Senate shouldn’t be able to override a local project, says Mike Schatzlein, chairman of the Amp coalition, which is pushing it forward in the face of AFP’s StopAmp.org. That’s over-reach, he says.

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