MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A group of high school students is looking for ways to make public transportation better, especially for seniors.
The Stop Poverty With Policy organization held a community forum for transit advocates and other community members to express their concerns about MATA bus routes, timing and more.
“I happen to take the bus one day and for some reason, I looked away," Memphis resident Linda Street said. "I didn’t know the schedule. I didn’t know the situation. I looked down and the bus passed me. It was another hour before the bus came back.”
Street said she would like to see more transparency from MATA.
“I was just really trying to figure it out and see what their challenges were," she said. "Then I began to look at bus stop and how there were no signs … people had to walk to even get to the bus stop. I began to document this and send it in to try to get the exchange.”
Street is also the Vice President of another group with MATA on their mind. The Walker Homes West Junction Neighborhood Association focuses on helping senior citizens with their basic needs.
Street said because many seniors live near the Walker Home area in Memphis, transportation should be easier.
“Because it’s far away, and people are trying to get downtown, it’s a challenge and I’m trying to help,” Street said.
Meanwhile, Stop Poverty with Policy organizer Sophia Overstreet said the group plans on presenting important information to MATA.
“We’re organizing ways to start canvassing and to start passing out these surveys to mass amounts of riders, so that what riders want—not what other organizations want, city council or what MATA wants—is happening in the Memphis Transit system,” Overstreet said.
ABC24 also reached out to MATA Spokesperson Mia Harvey who said, they work aggressively each day to improve rider experiences.
They have created a tracker for real-time bus arrival alerts and demand options that provide more flexibility.
Stop Poverty With Policy is also hoping for MATA and leaders to add more bus routes for a more efficient way of getting residents to and from where they need to go.
Harvey noted that bus routes are expensive to maintain, costing anywhere from $500,000 to a million dollars per year.
She added that there are about 30 bus routes that run in Shelby County.
"We clearly share the commitment of community advocacy groups as well as our city, county, state and federal leaders, who are all working to help transition MATA into a world-class public transportation system," Harvey stated. "We all recognize that major steps have been taken but more work is yet to be done."