The Look in Brief

Nashville transportation board shoots down new party bus permits

By: - August 26, 2021 8:53 pm
Downtown Nashville on a typical night. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Downtown Nashville on a typical night. (Photo: John Partipilo)

The Metro Nashville Transportation Licensing Commission denied 27 permit applications for “transportainment” vehicles after city officials spoke out against dangerous conditions in downtown Nashville. 

At Thursday’s meeting, several city officials warned that downtown Nashville has become an increasingly dangerous city for its inhabitants due to increased volume caused by entertainment vehicles.

Downtown Nashville’s popularity with tourists has affected all aspects of its economy, said Victoria Payne, spokesperson for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, adding that traffic conditions have made travel increasingly difficult for residents, workers and customers. 

Since mid-June, Metro officials have had to close Broadway to traffic to prevent pedestrians from being run over, said David Leavitt, special events coordinator for the Metro Nashville Police Department. His division has been looking into traffic improvements — such as installing more pathways for bikes and pedestrians — but Leavitt said the biggest obstacle is clogged up traffic. Leavitt blamed entertainment vehicles for further adding to the congestion and causing hazardous conditions. 

“Coming down 1st Avenue and there’s a long line of cars wondering why they were only going five miles an hour. When you look to the front of that long line of cars, there’s a pedal tavern,” said Leavitt. 

“We have an antiquated infrastructure downtown and we simply cannot handle more vehicles,” he added.

City officials have long been warned that accidents were bound to happen, and on July 29, a 22-year-old man sitting in a roofless party bus fell over the railing and was run over by the bus. He was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for injuries.

We're not suggesting that these unsafe conditions are solely caused by one bad company . . . but the sheer number of vehicles is growing at an alarming rate, and as a group, they tend to add to the amount of people that are excessively drinking, exacerbating the problem and adding to these unsafe conditions.

– Andrea Arnold, Nashville Convention and Vistors Corp.

Since then, groups, city officials and downtown residents have urged the Transportation Licensing Commission and others to deny all permit approvals until safety standards improved. 

Nashville’s reputation as a safe city is at stake, said Andrea Arnold, spokesperson for the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. 

“We’re not suggesting that these unsafe conditions are solely caused by one bad company. . . but the sheer number of vehicles is growing at an alarming rate, and as a group, they tend to add to the amount of people that are excessively drinking, exacerbating the problem and adding to these unsafe conditions. 

Five different companies that petitioned for additional vehicles commented that their businesses had suffered because of the pandemic and it was unfair that their companies were being regulated according to Metro Nashville rules while other entertainment vehicles were allowed to slip through the cracks. 

Some entertainment vehicles are governed under state law depending on the amount of passengers, size and type of vehicle.

A petition organized by Safe Fun Nashville has amassed more than 2,000 signatures advocating for Metro Nashville officials to increase safety standards, and organizers plan to continue advocating for regulation from state officials. “This is a first step. Party vehicles are posing a serious threat to the safety and tourist economy in our city,” said Jim Schmitz, a downtown resident and co-organizer of Safe Fun Nashville.

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Dulce Torres Guzman
Dulce Torres Guzman

Dulce has written for the Nashville Scene and Crucero News. A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, she received the John Seigenthaler Award for Outstanding Graduate in Print Journalism in 2016. Torres Guzman is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. She enjoys the outdoors and is passionate about preserving the environment and environmental issues.

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