Members of the Memphis Bus Riders Union are gathering on Saturday, August 11th to discuss the recent gas tax referendum approved by the Memphis City Council. The referendum would ask voters to support or refuse adding a one-cent tax to every gallon of gasoline sold within city limits, with the proceeds going to Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA).
The Bus Riders Union meeting, which will take place from noon to 2 p.m. at the Memphis Center for Independent Living on 1633 Madison Ave., was called because many of its members had concerns regarding the referendum’s content, which some consider to be vague.
“We’re going to be looking at the gas tax proposal and discussing it with the membership to decide if the group will get involved with this issue,” said member Brad Watkins. “We know that there’s a lot of support for it but we have a lot of questions about the language, the oversight to ensure those funds are going to go where we, and a lot of the members of the MATA board, agree that it should go to.”
The city council voted on Tuesday, August 7th in favor of placing the referendum on the November 6th ballot.
Watkins said the organization agrees that there needs to be a dedicated funding source for MATA but are seeking some clarification before they support it.
“In this era of city budgets, where funding comes and goes arbitrarily, this dedicated source of funding would ensure MATA could become the best public transit system that it could be, which is what we hope for,” Watkins said. “But we want to start a community-wide discussion on this to ensure that the gas tax, if passed by the voters, does what it’s supposed to.
The Memphis Bus Riders Union, founded in February, is a grassroots organization that seeks to ensure the needs and priorities of MATA customers are the company’s highest priority.