MATA removing some bus shelters and fixed routes

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 11:46 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Bus shelters are a key part of Memphis city streets that you may not have noticed have been going away.

Several city bus shelters are being removed in droves, and for those who depend on public transportation, that can be a real problem, especially on rainy days.

“Oh, if you don’t have a shelter, oh it’s miserable because the rain comes down on you and everything,” said Sammie Hunter, co-chairman of the Memphis Bus Riders Association. “And it’s miserable if you don’t catch a bus on time.”

Hunter has been riding buses in Memphis for over 15 years and says MATA removing 125 shelters across the city, like the one at American Way and Perkins, is just another issue the nonprofit has with the city’s bus system.

“And for you to take away those shelters from these people that are trying to get around, trying to get to work, trying to get to the hospital, trying to get to the grocery store, it’s ridiculous,” said Hunter.

MATA says the removal of the shelters was a result of the end of a contract with Lamar Advertising. MATA plans to replace 40 shelters, which is less than a third of what was there before.

“We do understand the impact that weather conditions can have on customers, and we are working to complete this project by the end of the year,” said MATA spokesperson Mia Harvey.

It’s not just the shelters going away. Some fixed bus routes will be going away also.

MATA officials say they make adjustments to their schedule about three times a year.

This latest shift is part of MATA’s Fall 2021 Proposed Redesign Plan.

Hunter is concerned with MATA replacing certain routes in under-served areas, such as Frayser and Boxtown with on-demand services called “Ready!”

On-demand service is where riders can call ahead for a pick-up similar to private rideshare companies, such as Uber, and be dropped off anywhere in a certain zone.

MATA says the new service addresses low ridership and improves on-time performance.

You can learn more about the service here.

Hunter is concerned about dedicated funding for the new service.

Action News 5 asked MATA if they could guarantee “on-demand services would stay around in those areas where fixed routes were discontinued.

We were told in part:

“We will have to evaluate resources and operating statistics at the conclusion of the pilot program. We have seen much promising success since the launch of the program last month and it’s our intention to expand the service.”

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