Proposed shuttle service runs into licensing questions

Should a shuttle bus service operating in Nashville be required to have a special permit from the town, and if so, should the town limit the number of permits?

Those are the questions the town council discussed May 19, but haven’t yet answered.

Town Manager/Economic Development Director Scott Rudd and Town Attorney Andy Szakaly proposed a new ordinance that would regulate the operation of shuttle services in Nashville.

Rudd said it came about because of a business proposal to start a shuttle service between the state park and town.

He recommended the council set the available number of licenses at one.

Brian Yeatman — who runs the Nashville General Store on East Washington Street — told the council he’s prepared to invest $50,000 in this venture.

Rudd drew parallels from this business idea to the carriage service and Nashville Express train which also carry passengers. Each is regulated by a town ordinance.

However, town council members, audience members and eventually Szakaly disagreed about whether or not a town shuttle service ordinance was needed, when shuttle drivers are already subject to state and federal licensing.

Local businessman Andrew Tilton suggested that all a shuttle would need, in addition to the normal town business license, would be a designated place to load and unload.

He and town council member David Rudd also questioned why town government would limit the free market by only allowing one shuttle to operate.

Yeatman said considering the amount of money he’s investing, he wants the same treatment as the train and the carriages, which currently have no competition and are governed by ordinance.

Everyone who spoke for and against the licensing agreed that the shuttle is a needed service.

Another concern was that the draft ordinance, as written, would also require motorcoaches to get a town permit — which was not the intent. In the draft, “shuttle” was defined as “a public transport that consists of a multi-passenger vehicle that carries passengers back and forth between at least two points.”

Discussion was tabled until 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 25.