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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt Director of Mobility and Transportation joins mayor’s office

Michael Briggs will serve as the Director of Transportation Planning for Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell, who was elected to office last September.
Royce Yang
A fleet of Lightning ZEV4 VandyRide shuttles charging at VUPD headquarters, as photographed on Nov. 04, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Royce Yang)

Vanderbilt Director of Mobility and Transportation Michael Briggs was selected in early January to serve as Director of Transportation Planning in the office of Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell. His term will last through 2024 before rejoining Vanderbilt’s Transportation and Mobility Office

Briggs has previous experience working with the Metropolitan Government of Nashville & Davidson County as part of the Metro Nashville Planning Department. In his new role, he will be working within the mayor’s office and alongside staff at WeGo Public Transit and the Nashville Department of Transportation and Planning. 

“We’re beginning to assess the potential for future transportation programs that would then go to voters in the fall to vote on to generate revenue around infrastructure for transportation,” Briggs said. “This was an opportunity for me to rejoin Metro and help think through how that implementation takes place.”

While at Vanderbilt, Briggs expanded the Transportation and Mobility Office and oversaw MoveVU, which added new WeGo bus routes to campus and introduced shared electronic bikes under his leadership. Briggs said working for Vanderbilt, which operates “like a small city,” has influenced his perspective going forward, allowing him to expand those ideas to the broader Davidson County area.  

“I think that relationship is really important and it demonstrates a really good opportunity to leverage some of the expertise of Vanderbilt, and even some of the assets that Vanderbilt has, to help lead [Nashville] and Middle Tennessee through a conversation around transportation and the importance of funding a transportation system that serves everybody and gives people options to get around town,” Briggs said. 

Nashville native Gwen Johnson, a first-year, expressed enthusiasm about the inspiration Vanderbilt’s campus could provide the city.

“I didn’t want to just drive everywhere but you can’t really get around without driving, especially if you live in the suburbs,” Johnson said. “Vanderbilt I feel like has been a lot better [than Nashville].”

The mayor’s office expressed excitement about Briggs joining Nashville’s public transportation department, referencing his experience with both the city and Vanderbilt University. 

“Michael has a long history of working on transit and mobility issues. He knows the challenges we face and the unique opportunities we have ahead of us, and I am grateful to Vanderbilt University for this collaboration,” O’Connell said in an email to The Hustler. “I appreciate the university’s commitment to improving mobility and transportation options.”

First-year Caroline Huntress echoed this interest in the partnership between Vanderbilt and Nashville. 

“I think it’s really cool that someone from Vanderbilt is connected to the mayor’s office,” Huntress said. “I cannot wait to see the amazing things he does in his new position.”

Briggs emphasized the importance of transportation infrastructure to population retention and city growth. 

“Transportation and mobility are a significant part of one’s quality of life and how they belong in the city. And being able to get around where you need to go is critical,” Briggs said. “I really think it ties back to how we value people and whether or not people are going to have the ability to be able to stay here in the future.”

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About the Contributors
Arman Amin
Arman Amin, Staff Writer
Arman Amin (‘27) is a student in the College of Arts and Science planning to major in political science. When not writing for The Hustler, you can find him listening to music, going for a run or spending time with friends. You can reach him at [email protected].
Sofia El-Shammaa
Sofia El-Shammaa, Staff Writer and Photographer, Data and Graphics Staffer
Sofia El-Shammaa (‘27) is majoring in political science and communication studies in the College of Arts and Science. When they’re not writing or making graphics, you can find them with their cat, Mochi, watching bad movies or reading good books. You can reach them at [email protected].
Royce Yang
Royce Yang, Staff Photographer
Royce Yang (‘27) is planning to major in political science in the College of Arts and Science. He can occasionally be observed curating an extensive collection of Bach or attempting to identify helicopters around the Medical Center based on their noise. You can reach him at [email protected].
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