VOL. 131 | NO. 34 | Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Garrison: MATA on 'Verge Of Collapse'
By Bill Dries
The president and CEO of the Memphis Area Transit Authority said Tuesday, Feb. 16, that the city’s bus system is “on the verge of collapse” without additional operating funds and city capital funding to buy new buses.
Ron Garrison delivered the dire warning to Memphis City Council members as he called for an $8 million increase in city operating funds in the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 and $5 million more in increased city capital funding to buy 11 new buses.
The increase in operating funds would bring the total city operating funding to $30 million of MATA’s annual $58 million budget.
Garrison said the transit authority has been using operating funding to meet capital needs for years.
And he warned that without increased funding by the city there will be “stark service cuts starting this July.
Garrison in not requesting any action by the council at this point.
MATA recently outlined a series of proposed route and service changes to start in May that are cost-neutral and increase the frequency of some routes and shorten others to set the stage for the increased funding.
Garrison also touted an improvement in the transit authority’s on-time performance percentage from 46 percent to 64 percent.
“That’s horrible,” he said of the earlier percentage. “How can you get to work and not lose your job?”
Garrison also cited a Brookings Institution study showing per capita city funding for MATA is $29 compared to $41 per capita in Nashville and $50 in Louisville, Ky.
Louisville is comparable in the services it offers and number of passengers, Garrison added, with $19 million more in city funding.