MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Waiting for a bus on a summer day in Memphis can be like living in a microwave oven. It feels as though a person could just burst into flames.
Add to this, the joy of waiting for a MATA bus, because you have no other way of getting around, and welcome to a miserable day.
Welcome to another edition of a fact of Memphis life. The overwhelming majority of people who ride the bus have no other way of getting around. So, they deal with the good, the bad, and the sometimes ugly of the Memphis Area Transit Authority.
One man told us, “It’s really hot outside. So, I think the bus should run every fifteen minutes like in Chicago.”
This isn’t Chicago. It’s Memphis, and it’s a public transit system that is trying hard to get better.
We were at the North Main Transit facility where we ran into people waiting for a connection, and most said things are getting better.
“I rode the bus,” one man said. “The air conditioning was working and all that.”
There are other options if you don’t have a car. Take an Uber or rent a motor scooter. The Chief Executive Officer of MATA says none of those are long term realistic options.
“None of these programs are going to replace the bus network,” says Gary Rosenfeld.
It’s a network with problems, Rosenfeld admits. But still, the importance of MATA can be seen every day the rain starts to fall.
“On a rainy day, for example,” Rosenfeld said, “we see an increase in ridership. And we see a lot of scooters sitting on the side of the road. It’s one of the tools to mobility. It is not the solution.”
Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris wants to see a consultant’s report on the best way MATA should spend more than two million dollars allocated to them by county commissioners.
It is the first time in history that Shelby County has sent budget money to MATA.