Memphis Public Transportation Grants Top $5 Million

By Bill Dries

The city of Memphis’ efforts at improving public transportation options for its citizens received two chunks of funding recently that collectively total more than $5 million.

The Memphis Area Transit Authority was awarded last week $4.7 million in federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funding through the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

Other CMAQ grants totaling $354,560 were awarded Tuesday, Aug. 11, to the city’s Commute Options Initiative program. The funds will supplement other MATA efforts to use public transportation or carpool, including incentives to businesses with such measures and free bus passes as well as emergency ride options.

The $90,000 local match for that effort is coming from the private funding of the Mayor’s Institute for Excellence in Government, which oversees the Commute Options Initiative.

The city of Memphis' Commute Options Initiative plans to partner with Explore Bike Share on rental bike kiosks for commuters.


Commute Options also plans to partner with Explore Bike Share on rental bike kiosks, where commuters can rent bicycles in half-hour increments.

The Commute Options part of Explore Bike Share would involve day passes or annual memberships.

The effort to build a bike-sharing system in Memphis is seeking public support at various community events.

The move by Explore Bike Share includes street teams asking citizens to sign statements supporting the concept and make other calls for public support.

The monthlong effort follows the first phase that started in June, when Explore Bike Share founder Doug Carpenter began seeking input on what the system might look like. That has also included an online survey.

The still-forming bike share plan also involves external market research and national distribution of a request for proposal to potential partners.

By the fall, Carpenter and project manager Sara Studdard hope to have research data ready and a list of supporters for the specific effort.

The largest share of last week’s grants, $2.4 million, is for public infrastructure improvements at Central Station as the station undergoes a transformation by private developers into a hotel-marketplace-retail complex.

The federal funding will specifically pay for a new trolley station on South Main, a connector concourse off Main Street into the marketplace, and other pedestrian and bicycle streetscape changes.

The grant covers the majority of the $3 million for the improvements. The remaining 20 percent, or $600,000, will come from city funds.

The other four CMAQ grants are for four new bus routes: a Wolfchase area connector, express service to the Airways Transit Center, a Getwell Connector and an Airport Shuttle Express.

Those four grants also include a 20 percent city of Memphis match.