Memphis Gas Tax Initiative Explained

(Memphis) The highways in Memphis are packed with morning commuters, but there is another commuter class that goes unnoticed, the thousands of people who depend on the MATA Bus System. 

“I use the bus everyday to go to school,’ Daniel Briggs said.

Briggs said the buses are frequently late and full of maintenance problems, “One of the buses broke down because the brakes were so bad on it. And it caught fire.”

The City is asking voters to approve a one cent tax hike on every gallon of gas.

Instead of paying $3.46 a gallon you would pay $3.47.

We did some simple math and that translates to about a $10 increase to your annual gas bill.

That extra money will generate between $3-$6 million a year for the transportation agency.

“This money must go to public transportation by state law and it would only be 1/3 of 1% increase on gas,” Councilman Edmund Ford, Jr. said.

Ford is behind the funding plan.

“Memphis would be the first one in the state who would have a funding source for public transportation,” he said. “It has been shown there is a positive correlation with good public transportation and high employment.”

The city cut MATA services the last four years and Ford worries more cuts in the future would be fewer routes.

He says that could mean fewer people could use buses to get to and from work, “If we start cutting public transportation for a 5th straight year, people will ask why are the unemployment going back up.”

Still, some bus riders, like Jessica Ashley, are critical of MATA.

She says they don’t use the money they do have efficiently.

“Really I feel like MATA is making enough money,” she said. “Half the time they aren’t even on time.”

Briggs hopes people will dig into their pockets and check yes when casting a ballot, “MATA has a lot of problems with them and they need the money.”

Without that money, he says it will be a bumpy road ahead for him and other MATA riders.

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