After one year of work, Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris presents his plan to fund MATA

Local News

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – This plan from Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris would be a revolutionary plan, one that the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) has never had before.

There have been times when MATA had to borrow money from the city to make a payroll. They own the buses, the behemoths of the boulevard, needed so people can get back and forth to work in a reasonable time. Basically there are experts who say if you want to fight poverty, make MATA better.

“We have a chance to make a significant investment in public transit,” Mayor Harris says.

Harris has been working on this during his first year in office. The plan would raise $10 million a year for MATA. The plan is to increase registration fees by $145 dollars per vehicle for people who own more than two vehicles. That’s roughly 17% of all households in Shelby County. 

“Almost no one,” Mayor Harris says, “almost no one faces an increase in their car registration fees or in their property taxes.”

This is something that MATA chief Gary Rosenfeld has been advocating for since the day he became the boss.

“It could provide an additional million rides a year,” he says. “There’s a lot of opportunity in a million rides, and we hope we are able to live up to the mayor’s expectations, to move forward, and put this plan into place.”

The plan got a thumbs up from Commissioner Reginald Milton who says, “This has been something that has been a concern of mine for some time.” Addressing Mayor Harris, Milton said, “I believe you’re moving in the right direction.”

Some suburban commissioners, such as Amber Mills of Millington, says the plan will hit the suburbs the hardest and most of them don’t even have MATA service.

Harris wants to have a lot of debate and discussion on this idea. He doesn’t want commissioners to vote on the plan until February of next year.

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