SHELBY CO., Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – A new survey done by Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris shows the majority of people who live here think our public transit system is awful. That’s fresh meat to a mayor, who is pushing for a way to pump $10 million a year to Memphis Area Transit Authority, saying better bus service is a way to help people out of poverty.
“Well, there’s nothing like spending a cold day on a hot topic, and there aren’t many topics that get much hotter than the Memphis Area Transit Authority.”
Every day around 28,000 people trundle over to their closest bus stop and hop aboard a lumbering giant of a vehicle. Destinations differ. some try to use the buses to go to work, others just to get around.
When asked what she uses for, MATA passenger Mary Stackhouse, “To go to doctors appointments and get out and go shopping and stuff. It’s real good.”
Real good for her. Not so good for others. A survey was sent to 300 Shelby County residents asking them about public transit. Those who responded didn’t hold anything back.
“More than 70% in this community in Shelby County say that our transit system is worse than the transit systems in every other city. If that’s the case we have got to do some catchup,” said Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris.
Mayor Harris has been pushing to make improvements in public transportation since September. He says it is a way to help people get to work on time in their battles to beat
“Most of the folks surveyed –9 out of 10– say you should be able to get to your destination in thirty minutes or less using public transit,” Mayor Harris said.
That would be a dream for Catherine Jones of Memphis, who has been forced to take mata buses since her car was stolen.
“As far as going from this side of town to east Memphis, I have to go through a lot. And you know, it takes me about two or three hours to get over there,” said Jones.
When Local 24 News reporter Mike Matthews asked, “Does it really?” Jones replied, “Yes. To get where I’m going. Because I have to change several buses sometimes.”
Mayor Harris continues to bring these plans to County Commissioners to show the need, hoping to see if they can figure out how to pay for it.