The Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) and the city have agreed upon a short-range transit plan that they say will improve service and make the system easier to understand and use.
The plan calls for MATA to straighten out routes to increase the frequency of bus service. They also plan to add several express routes linking downtown with the eastern parts of Shelby County. MATA and the mayor's office have agreed that the improvements in the short-range plan can be made without significantly increasing operating costs, and they should be in place by the end of the year.
“It’s essential that we have a solid transportation plan that allows people to get to work on time and helps the city recruit businesses to Memphis,” said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.
Additionally, MATA is studying world-class transit systems in other cities to determine the best long-range plan for Memphis transit.
This announcement comes just weeks before MATA plans to cut some underused routes and redirect others. A public hearing on those cuts was held at Central Station on Tuesday, and the MATA board of directors will vote on those cuts at the end of the month.
At a Memphis City Council meeting last month, MATA President Ron Garrison said the bus system would "collapse" unless the agency was able to get additional operating funds and capital to buy new buses.