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Sinclaire Sparkman: A week on the Music City Star

Sinclaire Sparkman • Updated Aug 18, 2017 at 1:00 PM

Late last week I learned of an opportunity in Nashville that would require me to drive in and out of the city at peak traffic time. 

It was one of those spur of the moment things, like a divine thought was downloaded into my brain and it just happened to be right before the registration deadline for this conference called HeartSync with Rev. Andrew Miller. I knew I’d be blessed for doing, but I also had no desire to sit in traffic for two hours every day. 

I realized my reason to ride the Music City Star had finally arrived.   

My first concern was how far away the venue was from the Riverfront Station, the last stop on the morning train that lets off right on the city-side bank of the Cumberland River. Getting somewhere after taking the train is fairly easy. Busses arrive in tandem with the train and the Nashville B-Cycle station next to the Pinnacle building is just one street over. For me though, walking the 1.6 miles to the Belmont church venue was just close enough to get in some good exercise in the morning. Plus, I had some extra time since the second train arrives at 7:30 a.m. and the conference started at 9 a.m.

My original thought was to take the B-Cycle, the red bikes intended for public use with various stations in the downtown area. They’re convenient and don’t cost too much, but I was just a bit too timid to try my cycling luck on the uphill city streets. My walking route took me a little more than 30 minutes to complete. Bus routes in the city are more than adequate to finish off most commutes, but the walk seemed more beneficial than paying an extra fare to complete my trip.

Now let me tell you, there’s nothing quite like kicking back and letting someone else do the driving. Riding the train is amazing and I would recommend it to anyone that has to travel from Lebanon or Mt. Juliet to Nashville everyday.  I have never personally sat in the work traffic all the way from Lebanon to Nashville, but I have heard it can take more than twice the time of the usual drive. 

The second train arrives at the Lebanon stations precisely at 6:40 a.m. and gets to Riverfront Station at 7:30 a.m. The 50-minute ride never seemed that long to me because of the multiple stops, and I used the time to either finish my coffee or just drink in the morning. 

Many people on the train talk to one another. There’s a healthy and respectful amount of chatter and activity across the train in the morning and evening. My perception of the crowd was that it’s mostly business-types riding in for work with the occasional student and blue collar worker, or the oddballs like me. I was honestly surprised by how many people actually ride the train. I observed about 20 people get on the train in Lebanon, and about that many or more at each station along the way.

The scenery is beautiful, the train is air-conditioned and there are a number of options for seating, including a second floor. I called the second floor the introvert section, which was my preferred section, because there are single seats available up there with no possibility for a stranger to sit next to you. I also discovered you can pull on the back of the chair to switch the direction you’re facing.

If you’re really not feeling the social atmosphere, you can ride on the “quiet car,” otherwise known as car 503, the farthest one from the front of the train and well away from the loud blow of the whistle. 

I made the mistake of sitting in the front car one day of the days I rode on the train, and I sat right next to the conductor’s closet. As soon as the whistle blew at a nearly deafening volume I knew I had learned a valuable lesson about where to sit. 

There’s a certain eloquence to riding the train, both in the ease of commute and the kindness of the people. People wait their turn to board and often yield to those coming down from the second floor. I never heard one angry or loud conversation during the four days, eight trips, that I rode on the train.  

There’s a stop in Martha, Mt. Juliet, Hermitage and Donelson before the Riverfront stop. Be sure to arrive on time because it usually takes less than a minute for the train to load and be on its way to keep a precise and dependable schedule. 

If riding the train makes sense for your commute, I highly recommend it. Tickets are available from the Lebanon Kroger, Mt. Juliet City Hall, Lebanon City Hall and in towns along the route as well as the Riverfront Station. There will be a special train to and from the Wilson County Fair on Saturdays Aug. 19 and 26 as well as for the solar eclipse event on Aug. 21. Call the Music City Star customer care at 615-862-5950 or email rta@nashville.gov for more information about rides to the fair.  

Sinclaire Sparkman is The Democrat’s news editor. Email her at ssparkman@lebanondemocrat.com and follow her on Twitter @wilsoncoreports.

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