By Commissioner GERALD NICELY
Public transportation in Tennessee is an important piece of our transportation network and plays a significant role in the state's economic health.
Surging gas prices, traffic gridlock, and environmental concerns are encouraging more and more people to look to transit as an affordable, reliable means of travel. Public Transit helps reduce roadway congestion allowing both commuters and freight to travel through our state more efficiently. What's more, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) estimates transit saves the nation almost 4 million gallons of gasoline a day. It also provides Tennesseans with transportation to jobs, schools, medical appointments and community activities and allows seniors and people with disabilities to remain independent.
In Tennessee, and across the nation, ridership on public transit is at its highest level since the late 1950s. More than 10 billion transit trips were taken in the U.S. last year, but for many Tennesseans who live in rural areas public transportation can be difficult to access. During the past several years, commercial bus service has been terminated in many of our rural counties leaving them without a fixed route bus system. To deal with this problem our Division of Multimodal Transportation Resources has identified gaps in bus service and developed a program to help fill this need. Earlier this month, TDOT made available $3.6 million in federal transit funds to existing qualified private or public agencies through a newly created Intercity Bus Demonstration Program.
The program utilizes federal funds which will supplement the services currently available. Nine regional carriers and rural transit systems have applied to participate in the program. The grant funds will be awarded later this month. Successful applicants will utilize the funds to connect 45 underserved counties to the closest city with intercity bus service. New feeder services to Nashville, Cookeville, Jackson and Memphis are scheduled to begin in 2009. Information on these routes can be obtained by contacting TDOT's Division of Multimodal Resources at (615) 741-2781.
The Department is also working to make rural transit more efficient. We are currently working with ten rural transportation agencies to implement intelligent transportation technology in buses. The technology will help agencies better coordinate trips and coverage. When fully implemented, it will enable transit providers to pull up online information that shows where all vans are located, where they're going and how many people are on board. As a result, the agencies will be able to serve more people and get riders to their destinations faster while also using fewer vehicles and traveling fewer miles. The goal is to have the technology in place in all ten transit agencies by August 2009.
There is little doubt that transit will continue to play a larger role in our transportation system. The programs described above illustrate progress toward meeting our goal of making transit services more efficient, reliable and available to all Tennesseans.
Editor’s Note: Gerald Nicely is the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
To the Editor:
During a recent trip to Washington, D.C., we visited the Lincoln Memorial which is being renovated for rededication on President Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday on Feb. 12, 2009.
How appropriate to have a President-Elect who will be the first African American to occupy the White House.
Frank C. Newbell
To the Editor:
When I moved to Wilson County three years ago, I didn’t know anyone here personally. I remember as we drove up Carthage Highway toward our new home, my husband, a Captain in the Tennessee Army National Guard, was excited and telling me that we lived somewhere down the road from Stratton Bone.
The reason my husband knew of him was everything Rep. Bone has done, and continues to do, for the Tennessee National Guard. Mr. Bone was instrumental in getting State Route 840 named the Tennessee National Guard Parkway and reserving the bridges for fallen Tennessee National Guardsmen. He was a strong supporter of tuition assistance, as well as many other measures Gov. Phil Bredesen passed to protect and assist returning Tennessee National Guardsmen from overseas deployments.
With Veterans’ Day just passed, and at a time when the tone in our country, and unfortunately in Wilson County, has insulted us all with hateful and negative campaigns, I wanted to say something positive. I would like to publicly thank Rep. Bone for his support of my husband, my little boys and me, and all Tennessee National Guardsmen and their families. As my husband gets ready to deploy for the fourth time, I feel better knowing I have Rep. Bone “down the road.”
To the Editor:
It is with great sadness and heavy heart that I must write this letter, honoring the life and death of Mrs. Judy Pratt, also known to others as "The Peach Lady" from Tuckers Crossroads.
Ms. Judy passed from this earth, Nov. 8, 2008. She was an intelligent lady, a hard worker, a sharp business woman, but most of all a loving wife of 44 years to Jack Sr. and a wonderful mother to Jack Jr. for 34 years. She will be greatly missed by all who had the good fortune to have known her and those who had her make a difference in their lives.
It was an honor and a privilege for me to be able to call her my friend, and until we meet again "Ms. Judy," we will miss you deeply.
To the Editor:
I want to thank Chief Scott Bowen and the Lebanon Police department for providing the opportunity for me to attend the Lebanon Citizens Police Academy, Oct. 2 through Nov. 6.
Having lived in Lebanon my entire life and having called on our police department throughout the years, it was an honor to be a part of such an informative and entertaining series of classes.
Our class of about 19 citizens was introduced to the inner workings of our police department through lecture and Power Point presentations.
Many examples of police work were demonstrated by Chief Bowen, Dets. Martin, Lafferty, Ferguson, Vanhook, Melvin and Dawna Gutierrez, communications supervisor.
Topics covered were department goals, policies, defensive driving school, D.U.I. Enforcement, Special Operations Division, Drug investigation, S.W.A.T., Hostage Negotiations, Terrorism/ Homeland security, weapons, crime prevention, crime scene investigation and sex offender registry.
The highlight of the academy for me was the “ride along.” This is when we were allowed to ride with a patrol officer for several hours and see first-hand what it takes to protect the citizens of Lebanon.
In closing, I want say how much I appreciate Chief Bowen and the Lebanon Police Department for everything they do and for providing an opportunity to attend the Citizens Police Academy. I recommend it highly to any citizen of Lebanon who wants to learn more about our local police force.