Murfreesboro is awarded a $6-million Tennessee Department Of Transportation grant for a new transit facility and office at the corner of West Main Street and Bridge Avenue.
It was a Competitive Transit Capital Grant to cover the final design and construction of the new center.
When completed, the Rover bus full-service facility will cost $11.5 million. Murfreesboro's Transit Center will include a 12,700 square foot garage and office complex. Officials estimate the project should be completed by 2021.
City Transportation Director Jim Kerr said, "We are pleased to receive this significant grant funding from TDOT for the Transit Facility. The proposed full-service bus transit facility for the Rover system will include a passenger waiting and passenger loading and unloading areas, bus storage, parking, and support amenities."
The TDOT award provides $3 million in State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2018 and an additional $3 million in SFY2019. Remaining funding will come from a combination of Federal, State and local funds. City Council initially approved the Murfreesboro Transit Station in 2013. Construction on the Murfreesboro Transit Facility is anticipated in October, 2019.
Rover currently operates a fleet of nine 23-passenger buses with front wheelchair ramps allowing for ease of boarding. Rover employees 15 drivers. The central hub is located at 222 W. Burton and leased from the Murfreesboro Housing Authority. The hub location will likely be reduced to a stop when the Transit Facility is completed in 2021. The new Transit Facility would provide a central location for boarding and transferring, as well as housing for dispatch, operations, administration and maintenance facilities for the public transit system.
Rover began operating in Murfreesboro in 2007 with six routes and currently has seven routes with plans to combine routes on the West side of the City. More details on current routes can be accessed on the City's website at http://www.murfreesborotn.gov/248/Public-Transit---Rover-Bus-System.
In a letter supporting the grant, Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Interim Director Michelle Lacewell wrote, "Not only will this grant provide much needed funding to enhance transit service for the residents of Rutherford County, it will benefit the entire region through improving regional transit connections and increasing opportunities for economic development in the region."
The Rover system's operating budget of approximately $1.14 million consists of 50 percent federal, 40 percent state and 10 percent city funding. Rover currently charges riders $1 per ride but is considering an increase to $1.25. Monthly ridership is approximately 23,500.
The City is in the process of completing a Comprehensive Operational Analysis for Rover. A public hearing to discuss the findings was presented Nov. 14, 2017. A final report is expected in the January.
Environmental and historic preservation assessments were required on the planned Main Street location in downtown Murfreesboro. The assessments included studies by TNSHPO of archaeological resources.