WeGo expands bus services to and from Vanderbilt

Six new bus routes to and from campus are available for free to Vanderbilt students, faculty and staff.


Sola Johnson

WeGo bus arrives at Hillsboro Transit Center, as photographed on Aug. 9, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Sola Johnson)

Sam Stubbs, Staff Writer

WeGo Public Transit expanded its commuter bus services to and from Vanderbilt, effective July 5. 

Through Vanderbilt’s EasyRide initiative, Vanderbilt community members can ride all WeGo local buses, WeGo regional buses and the WeGo Star train for free using their Commodore Cards. The buses stop at numerous locations on and near campus and travel to popular Nashville destinations such as Broadway, Green Hills and The Gulch.

Routes 87 (Gallatin/Hendersonville), 89 (Springfield/Joelton) and 94 (Clarksville) have each been allotted one new morning trip and one new evening trip, totaling to six additional trips. These three bus routes now run a combined 22 trips per day: 11 to and 11 from Nashville. 

Additional service changes aimed at improving mobility for the Vanderbilt community are also slated for the 2022-23 academic year. These changes would include the retiming of Route 75 (Midtown) in Fall 2022. In Spring 2023, there would be additional crosstown service via Routes 75 and 77 (Thompson Wedgewood), additional midday service via Route 7 (Hillsboro) and extended late-night service including Routes 3 (West End) and 7.

“Vanderbilt was the first major employer in the region to provide transit passes as part of employee and student benefits,” Vanderbilt Director of Mobility Michael Briggs said. “You can ride the bus downtown on a Friday night and take a Lyft home or ride the 12:15 a.m. bus back to campus. Vanderbilt covers your bus trips, and you don’t have to worry about parking.”

WeGo Public Information Officer Eric Melcher expressed gratitude for WeGo’s close relationship with Vanderbilt. He encouraged students to take advantage of the EasyRide program and explore how it can suit their needs.

“Many Vanderbilt students and employees rely on mass transit,” Melcher said. “We want to make sure we provide the best service possible. Just one bus [Route 7] gets you to Green Hills Mall, downtown and The Gulch, and a connection gets you into East Nashville.”

The public comment period for these proposed changes opened on July 11. Melcher encourages Vanderbilt community members to offer their feedback to WeGo by calling, emailing or attending a public meeting.

Briggs stressed the importance that transportation must play for Vanderbilt to achieve its sustainability and mobility goals, as laid out by FutureVU and MoveVU, respectively.

“Commuting makes up approximately one-fourth of our greenhouse gas emissions,” Briggs said. “Hopefully, the convenience of additional regional service will help commuters choose a sustainable commuting option instead of driving alone to campus.”

Vanderbilt Student Government (VSG) President Amisha Mittal, a senior, and Vice President Ari Sasson, a junior, campaigned in Spring 2022 on a platform that championed financially inclusive transportation options. Sasson expressed optimism for the WeGo service expansion, while continuing to advocate for further improvements in off-campus mobility.

“The expansion fits in with our administration’s vision: making travel within Nashville accessible for students of all economic backgrounds,” Sasson said. “I hope WeGo continues to add lines and make the buses more accessible to fit students’ lives. No matter what time of day, students should be able to get home safely and in an economically accessible manner.”

Sophomore Vraj Dirajlal founded bike share startup Vello in Fall 2021 while participating in Vanderbilt Innovation and Entrepreneurship Society’s (VINES’s) Cohort program. The idea arose out of his desire to improve on-campus mobility and make off-campus transit more financially inclusive. Dirajlal expressed excitement about the added WeGo bus routes and the anticipated effect on student mobility.

“Increasing the availability of affordable and public transportation options such as bikes and buses should be a priority for both Vanderbilt and the city of Nashville,” Dirajlal said. “I am glad to see that the city is making steps towards a more sustainable and affordable future for its community members by expanding WeGo bus services.”

Sophomore Briley Porter said she relied on the accessibility of WeGo services during her first year at Vanderbilt nearly every day as she did not have a car on campus. Porter stated that she had mostly good experiences with WeGo but occasionally faced challenges. She expressed optimism about the service expansion.

“I had a few instances where I was stuck in one place for over 45 minutes, so I feel that adding more trips along existing routes is a great improvement,” Porter said. “The only times I don’t use the bus are when the route [is inconvenient], so the proposed changes do make me a lot more likely to ride it.”