Nashvillians resoundingly defeated a controversial plan that would have raised four taxes to fund a transit system anchored by light trail, voting against the historic referendum by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.

In a crushing blow to much of the city’s establishment that backed the proposal, more than 78,000 Nashvillians voted against the referendum and nearly 44,000 voted for it. It was a margin of about 64 percent to 36 percent. 

It was a sweeping rejection, with only five of 35 Metro Council districts, covering parts of East Nashville, Inglewood, downtown, 12South and Belmont, voting for the referendum.

The lopsided outcome, which came from a large turnout of voters, casts major doubt over the future of legacy transit in Nashville — a rapidly growing but still car-dominated community that lacks high-capacity transit like many of its peers.

It also sets up weeks of dissecting to see where things went wrong for the city’s transit boosters, who vastly outspent their opponents but lost overwhelmingly anyway.

“The voters have spoken,” Ralph Schulz, CEO and president of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, said at a subdued gathering of Nashville for Transit supporters at the Adventure Science Center. “But we still have to find that proper (transit) solution. Let’s keep working on it.”