Thursday, July 10, 2008
MTA is forced to end Titans shuttle service
By CHARLES BOOTH • Staff Writer (Tennessean)• July 10, 2008 Tom Ballman, a brazen Tennessee Titans tailgater, once offered sage advice to those less-fortunate fans forced to park miles away from LP Field. Find a cheap parking lot, he said, and like thousands of others take the Metro Transit Authority's End-Zone Express Shuttle service to the game. "That's what I recommended to people who don't have parking passes, because it takes you right there," he said. Not a bad suggestion from a man known to dress as a beer keg during football games. But this fall, he'll need to offer different advice, because a new federal regulation is shutting down the shuttle. In April, the Federal Transit Administration ruled that public transportation agencies could no longer provide shuttles to special or sporting events. Those that did would risk their federal funding. "The change promotes the performance of this service by private companies," said Patricia Harris-Morehead, MTA communications director. "They provide federal funds to public transit agencies to buy equipment and provide transportation. I guess they didn't want to give the public transit system an unfair advantage." For about nine years, the End-Zone Express has shuttled as many as 5,000 fans to LP Field each Sunday. Harris-Morehead said about 700 fans bought season packages for the service, and the agency is working to let them know this is no longer an option. At least not a publicly funded option. A private charter service may take over for MTA, and with only a month until the start of the pro football season, officials with the Tennessee Titans are negotiating to get some type of transportation in place. "It's a vital resource for us on game day," said Don MacLachlan, vice president of administration for the Titans. "We're working closely and staying in touch with the mayor's office and everyone to try and find a solution that will ultimately result in having a shuttle service again for those fans who have been loyal riders." He said the Titans are "cautiously optimistic" they'll come to an agreement with a private bus line, but Harris-Morehead said some of the program's former customers might be able to find a ride on one of the five MTA bus routes that leave downtown daily and pass LP Field. Bus fare for adults is $1.60 per trip; a schedule of routes can be found at www.nashvillemta.org. For fans in eastern Davidson County and in Wilson County, the train is an option. Train may be option Diane Thorne, executive director of the Regional Transportation Authority, said her agency would continue the "Titans Game Day Express," a program that offers rides to fans on the Music City Star for about $15 on Sundays. Details about that service are at www.rtarelaxandride.com.