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VOL. 131 | NO. 195 | Thursday, September 29, 2016

New Routes, CEO Contract Approved By MATA

BY MICHAEL WADDELL, Special to The Daily News

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The Memphis Area Transit Authority board of commissioners approved more than $500,000 in new bus service Tuesday, Sept. 27, including three new bus routes, and it extended the contract of MATA president and general manager Ron Garrison through 2022.

Public comments against some of the 49 proposed bus route changes, which is the primary transportation source for many Memphians, prompted the MATA board to approve only 29 new and modified routes.

(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

“In his two years’ tenure with us, we’ve seen some pretty significant improvements being made in implementing our different projects and objectives,” MATA board chairman Sean Healy said. “Some examples of those are the (development of) Central Station, the Main-to-Main Project, and the initiative to move people to jobs and jobs to people.”

Garrison’s term began in August 2014 and was originally set to run for three years.

The newly approved bus routes include an airport shuttle route that will run seven days a week, along with a route to Goodlett Farms and a new feeder to provide shuttle service between the Shelby Farms Greenline, Shelby Farms Park and the Agricenter Farmer’s Market.


Several existing routes were also modified, but many of the proposed route changes were not made after MATA heard concerns from the community over the past few months.

MATA originally planned to make 49 route changes, but only 26 routes were modified or changed along with the addition of the three new routes, so 20 proposed route changes were nixed. The route changes take effect Dec. 11.

In addition to the three new routes, 16 routes get minor timing adjustments; five routes get increased frequencies or span of service; and five route undergo routing adjustments.

In other business, MATA will receive much-needed new bus inventory. Fifteen new buses are on order and scheduled to be delivered next spring.

“I went to Gillig (Corp.) and asked them to go to their board on our behalf to get our buses delivered earlier, and that was a huge win for us,” Garrison said. “So those buses are going into production in late March, and they should be arriving in late April or early May. As they arrive and go into service in May, we’ll retire those other six buses.”

The board also approved revisions to MATA’s contract with ORX for the refurbishment and repair of 12 additional trolley trucks, bringing the contract total to $951,744 to refurbish and repair 16 trucks. In April 2015, the board had awarded a contract to ORX to rebuild four trucks with the option to repair 20 additional trucks. Two trucks are used for each operating trolley.

“Of the additional 12 trucks, we are needing eight of those for four more trolleys, and then the other sets of trucks will be used for spares,” said Maury Miles, MATA director of grants and procurement. “Additionally, the first four trucks and some of the others are in pretty poor shape because of the maintenance done over the years to them and metal fatigue, so there was additional work that needed to be done on those trucks.”

MATA hopes to have six trolleys running the Main Street tracks Downtown within the next year.

The MATA board also:

• Extended by five months through Feb. 28, 2017, the on-call contract with Shelby Electric Co. for rail system and facility electrical improvements paid on an hourly work basis, plus authorized $550,000 from its capital budget for necessary rail system and vehicles repairs.

“We identified that there are several projects that need to be done associated with the trolley’s electrical system, and they need to be done fairly soon in order for us to have the system up and running whenever we do start the trolleys again,” Miles said.

• Approved a five-year contract valued at $1.14 million for First Transit Inc. to manage and operate MATA’s fixed-route, demand response paratransit and light rail vintage trolley system.

• Extended the lease of six vans from Creative Bus Sales for MATAPlus service at a cost of $72,000, bringing a larger leasing contract with Creative Bus to $148,500 for 15 vans. MATAPlus is a shared ride paratransit service designed to meet the transportation needs of persons with disabilities in the Memphis service area. MATAPlus riders must have a disability that prevents them from riding the MATA fixed-route bus system or traveling to or from bus stops.

• Approved the purchase of 10 wheelchair-accessible vans for $349,907 from Mid-South Bus Sales for Checker Cab to use as wheelchair-accessible taxis. To meet requests received from people with disabilities, three of the new vehicles will be side-loading vans.

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