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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

A $12-million game changer for the Memphis Area Transit Authority

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – $12-million bucks. That’s a lot of dough. And for the Memphis Area Transit Authority, it will open up a lot of d...

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – $12-million bucks. That’s a lot of dough.

And for the Memphis Area Transit Authority, it will open up a lotof doors.

It is all about bus rapid transit – a new thing for this city.

Because if there is one thing widely known now, it is that thecurrent bus system is anything but rapid.

MATA’S Chief Executive Officer Gary Rosenfeld says, “What busrapid transit is, is high frequency, high capacity bus service that utilizesstations, rather than bus stops. So there will be 28 or 29 stations built alongthe route.”

Memphis had to compete with other cities to get this money. TheActing Administrator for the Department of Transportation in Washington saysthis is a big victory for the city.

K. Jane Williams says, “We have seen bus rapid transit workacross the country. It’s also going to improve access and mobility to jobs,health care, of course education with the University of Memphis, as well asother vital services across the community. We really believe it’s going to bevery successful.”

The grant doesn’t change all of the problems. Not even close.

But it does show a radical change.

“(Bus Rapid Transit) will have dedicated bus lanes on Secondand Third Street, coming in and out of downtown,” says Rosenfeld, “…and then it will be in regular lanes on Union Avenue and when it blends intoPoplar Avenue.”

The plan is to have buses running every ten minutes. A bigdifference from the current situation, where people routinely spend two hoursand more on buses while trying to get around.

The buses will also be new.

Rosenfeld says, “We will be using new electric buses with,again, the most modern amenities on board. They’ll be wi-fi on board andcharging ports for people’s gadgets and phones.”