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VOL. 131 | NO. 172 | Monday, August 29, 2016

MATA Route Proposals Straighter, Include Airport, Shelby Farms Shuttles

By Bill Dries

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A set of 49 proposed route and service changes to the city’s bus system are focused primarily on bus schedules in southwest Memphis and the Memphis International Airport area.

The Memphis Area Transit Authority is considering a set of several dozen route and timing changes that include eight new routes. If approved in September by the MATA board, the changes would take effect in December.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

There are also eight new proposed routes and shuttle services.

The first public hearing on the proposal Thursday, Aug. 25, at the Memphis Area Transit Authority’s Airways Transit Center, 3033 Airways Blvd., drew about 30 citizens and concerns that the changes mean more transfers and too much walking for long-time riders who don’t have cars and depend on the bus system to get to work and other places beyond their neighborhoods.

“You are making it hard. You are making them connect,” said Sam Hunter of the Memphis Bus Riders Union. “We need better service.”

The group of changes feature straighter routes, which in some cases are shorter, to increase the frequency of bus trips.

The next public hearing on the proposal is Tuesday, Aug. 30, at 5 p.m. at Central Station.

Eight new routes, funded with state transportation grant money, and the other changes would take effect Dec. 11 if approved by the MATA board at a Sept. 27 meeting. And those new routes impact existing routes.

“If we change one thing, we have to change three or four,” said MATA planning manager John Lancaster.

A Shelby Farms Park shuttle (route 47) would operate Saturdays and Sundays every 45 minutes between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. It will shuttle passengers between the park, the Shelby Farms Greenline and the Agricenter Farmer’s Market.

The new 44 Goodlett Farms and 45 Appling Farms routes will use State Road and Mullins Station Road just west of Shelby Farms Park as their western terminus, with different points on Germantown Parkway marking their eastern ends. Goodlett Farms includes a stop at the new Ikea store currently under construction.

Goodlett Farms and Appling Farms service would be every hour weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Farmer’s Market is the eastern end of the 340 Walnut Grove Express offering four weekday trips each way starting from the Downtown Hudson Transit Center, 444 N. Main St., and traveling on Union Avenue into Walnut Grove Road.

34 Walnut Grove is one of 14 existing routes that would change. It would have shorter trips from Downtown to Highland Avenue along Union/Walnut Grove to provide hourly service along Union on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.

The 64 Airport Shuttle between the Airways and American Way transit centers and Memphis International Airport would run every half hour on weekdays from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., with Saturday and Sunday service every hour from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Airways Transit Center is also part of the proposed new Winchester route 69 that still starts on the east end at American Way Transit Center, 3921 American Way. The western end remains near Mitchell Road and Rebeh, but the new route would be a straight shot down Winchester Road.

The southern swing that 69 Winchester currently takes into Whitehaven and southwest Memphis will be covered by the new 23 Millbranch route that sticks to Millbranch Road from Brooks Road to McAlister.

And a modified 38 Boxtown route takes in more of Whitehaven that is now covered by 69 Winchester.

That set of four changes would eliminate the 30 Brooks route.

The current 56 Lamar route would change, getting off of Union Avenue sooner and taking Danny Thomas Boulevard to intersect with E.H.Crump Boulevard before it turns into Lamar Avenue. The eastern end remains the American Way Transit Center.

The 2 Madison route is dropping service between Tiger Lane at the Mid-South Fairgrounds and Memphis International Airport.

The existing 32 East Parkway route, running north and south between Frayser and the Mississippi state line, will be the East Parkway into Airways route instead, with service on the East Parkway line increasing on weekdays to every 30 minutes from 5 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays, that route becomes every 40 minutes from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and every 60 minutes from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The increased service makes the East Parkway route an even more important north-south route in a system that lacks as many north-south routes as it does east-west.

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