KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Mayor Indya Kincannon is hoping a $300,000 investment in Knoxville Area Transit infrastructure upgrades will be met with a $900,000 boost from the state. The city’s seed funding is part of a $35 million budget amendment that includes COVID-19 pandemic relief funds.
The city wants to use the funding to upgrade 1,100 bus stops with shelters, concrete landing pads and sidewalk access. Kincannon says the city’s investment is a much-needed first step.
“We know that improving accessibility to bus stops and adding shelters increases transit ridership and improves the transit experience – that’s just common sense,” she said. “But it’s also the right thing to do. People who rely on transit should have a safe, dry place to wait for their bus.”
The City Council already approved the funds during its Oct. 19 meeting. The budget requires a second vote. That vote is expected to take place during the council’s Nov. 2 meeting.
The matching state funds would come from the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
KAT Director of Transit Isaac Thorne said the upgrades are important for those riders who use a wheelchair or have mobility issues. Each bus stop is unique, with grading, right-of-way and other issues that require extensive analysis and design work.
The public input process and the start of upgrades and installation work for the shelters will begin in spring 2022.
“Once someone is on one of our buses, the experience is great, with clean vehicles, free WiFi and a helpful operator,” Thorne said. “So it’s really the on-street experience that we want to work on.
“This is so important for our customers to have safe, inviting bus stops. The City’s initial $300,000 allows us to start prioritizing stops and get more public input on where bus stop improvements should go.”
The mayor’s budget amendment proposal can be found at www.knoxvilletn.gov/arpa.