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VOL. 131 | NO. 30 | Thursday, February 11, 2016

MATA Changes Target Frayser and Southeast Memphis

By Bill Dries

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The public’s first chance to comment Tuesday, Feb. 9, on a set of 35 interim changes to Memphis’ bus schedule sounded like an auction.

MATA is considering a set of 35 route and service changes that would include more frequent routes in Frayser.

(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

There were questions that began with numbers – route numbers that would change directions and streets or the frequency of service. And there were a lot of numbers to consider.

The Memphis Area Transit Authority is proposing to change nine routes, eliminate Presidents Island service, change service on five other routes and make timing changes to 10 more – all effective May 1 if approved in March by the MATA board.

And MATA officials, usually braced at such gatherings for criticism, fielded as many positive reactions as negative.

“The changes are revenue neutral,” MATA planning manager John Lancaster said as he fielded questions at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, 3030 Poplar Ave.

Lancaster said the changes are a way to make some adjustments and then wait to see what the new administration at City Hall is willing to approve in the way of budget funding.

The meeting wasn’t a town hall format. Officials presented maps of the two sets of concentrated changes, and answered questions and took comments from more than 12 citizens.

One set of changes would reroute buses in the Frayser area to make the Frayser Plaza shopping center a connecting point and Frayser Boulevard a major bus thoroughfare.

That would change the 42 Crosstown route just before it moves south out of Frayser, and the change drew a lot of concern.

“It will be complicated for people who won’t be able to go down Watkins any more,” said Cynthia Bailey, of the Memphis Bus Riders Union who has lived in Frayser for 30 years and has been a MATA rider for 20 years.

“Many of them have to wait hours in order to make connections or they have to ride the bus all the way Downtown...”

–Keith Norman
Baptist Memorial Health Care

“Let’s think about real hot days and stormy days that people are just standing there not knowing what time their bus comes. There’s nothing there to congregate riders,” she said of Frayser Plaza, which has a large parking lot fronting Frayser Boulevard with no bus stops or shelters. “Let’s look at the residential areas that they are taking out. It should be about the residents and the riders.”

Keith Norman of Baptist Memorial Health Care also had concerns about the impact of the Crosstown route changes on Baptist employees in particular.

Like Bailey, he was concerned about increasing the number of transfers riders have to make.

“Many of them have to wait hours in order to make connections or they have to ride the bus all the way Downtown in order to wait for what is referred to as ‘the line up’ in the late evening just to get home,” Norman said, citing some Baptist employees who spend $20 on a one-way journey to work.

The other set of changes in southeast Memphis is intended to serve workers with more frequent service out of the Airways and American Way bus terminals.

The 7 Air Park route would have three early morning trips from Downtown and then hourly service to and from the American Way terminal.

Despite his concerns about the proposed Frayser changes, Norman applauded the effort by the transit authority.

“It is designed to help improve some of the issues that MATA faces in helping employees and people who use their services to better connect,” he said.

The public meeting process will be repeated Thursday, Feb. 11, at the Hickory Ridge Mall, 6075 Winchester Road, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

A town hall meeting with a formal presentation will be held March 1 at Central Station, 545 S. Main St., from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

And the MATA boards will vote on the proposal March 21.

PROPERTY SALES 38 38 12,796
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BANKRUPTCIES 44 44 6,108