Public transportation advocates call for MATA to improve transportation access to riders

Published: Apr. 23, 2022 at 8:45 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - County leaders and local public transportation advocates are calling for Memphis Area Transit Authority to discuss how they plan to create better access to public transportation for riders after getting rid of bus routes in underserved communities.

“Public transportation, mass transit is one of the main arteries that can often decide success or failure in a municipality,” said Memphis Bus Riders Union Outreach Coordinator Charles Johnson.

Local leaders and advocates for public transit came together to talk MATA. They along with Memphis Bus Riders Union’s Charles Johnson say they want to know where $7.1 million dollars given to the Memphis Area Transit Authority since 2019 is going.

“We went to bat for the organization to try and get extended funding,” said Johnson. “And now we’re in search for accountability for that funding.”

Citizens for Better Service Chairman says those funds were given by the Shelby County Commission and were supposed to be used for expanding access to transportation in low income areas, but he says bus route in Boxtown, Firestone and Northaven are gone now. MATA told Action News 5 these routes are covered by other fixed routes and on-demand services that have seen “tremendous success.”

“Now, MATA has broken it’s word and turns out that money they were going to use from the County Commission was going to improve bus service but they turn around and eliminated bus service,” said Citizens for Better Service Founding Chairman Johnnie Mosley. “Who’s to say MATA isn’t going to do that again?”

MATA told Action News 5 in a statement:

“All of the funding the Memphis Area Transit Authority receives supports transportation for Memphis bus riders. For transparency, our budget is available at matatransit.com and is one of the leanest transit system budgets in the country. We are grateful to Mayor Strickland, the Memphis City Council, and other government leaders and advocacy groups, for recognizing the importance of increasing funding for MATA to ensure we continue to maintain routes, improve travel time and spur innovation. We remain open to conversations with Mr. Mosley’s organization regarding their interpretation of our spending plan which seems inaccurate.”

the routes that Mr. Mosley is referring to are covered by other fixed routes and our on -demand services that have seen tremendous success.

Advocates also say they want MATA to improve its drop off and pick up times and communicate more with riders.

Their next stop? The Shelby County Commission to discuss their concerns with county leaders.

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