Former longtime head of MATA dies at the age of 79

Local News

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – You see those things clattering up and down Main Street, the trolleys? Will Hudson, former head of the Memphis Area Transit Authority, is the reason why they’re here.

His name is William Hudson. Most folks knew him as Will.

Former Mayor Willie Herenton knew him as a friend.

“We both rode on the back of segregated buses in the 40s and 50s,” Dr. Herenton said, “… and then Will came up through the ranks and he headed the whole system, and he did a marvelous job. My sympathies go to Will and all his family.”

It is hard to imagine just how racially twisted Memphis was when it came to African Americans. They had to ride in the back of the bus. They weren’t even allowed to drive a bus until 1961.

Will Hudson was hired in 1964. As President of MATA, he often dealt with groups who wanted changes.

“He was a very tough person,” remembered Johnnie Mosley of Citizens for Better Service. “If you confronted Mr. Hudson with any type of issue, you’d better make sure you had your facts together, because he was very serious about his job and he was very serious about public transportation.”

Will Hudson is responsible for the bus system’s north and south transfer hubs. Central Station is another story.

It was renovated under his watch, from one the most dangerous AMTRAK stations in the country to its current shape, where a new hotel is about to open.

Will Hudson did a lot.

“Will was a compassionate, dedicated professional,” Willie Herenton said. “I mean, he would eat and sleep transportation. So I’ll miss this guy, man. He made a great contribution to Memphis.”

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