MATA Sees Gas Tax Hike Failure As Small Victory

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(Memphis) Memphis voters said no to a proposed penny per gallon tax hike Tuesday.

That means no additional money for MATA.

The one cent increase would have added bus service in our area and it's something riders say they still want.

"That was a one cent tax increase! They should have done it!" said Rider Michael Gates.

Gates says it would have meant better service and bus maintenance at the price of about $5 extra a year for drivers, "They should have got it. It's ridiculous."

Instead, MATA will not be seeing an extra three million dollars a year because 62 percent of Memphis voters voted against a gas tax increase.

Yet, MATA is still seeing this as a victory since 38 percent of voters wanted it.

"There are 80 thousand plus people who think we need to think more about public transportation in Memphis," said Alison Burton with MATA.

MATA says the plan now is to go head with increases in service, adding routes, improving bus shelters and more.

It's just going to have to be done in phases under MATA's current budget, taking longer to complete. 

In the meantime, MATA hopes to make its case to the city that more money is needed.

"Absolutely. Absolutely," said Burton. "Public transportation does need a dedicated source of funding."

While the City budgets about $22 million a year for MATA, riders say they can tell from service that it's not enough.

"They don't run consistent like every hour, every two hours, standing in these conditions, it's bad," said Rider Laterrell Cline.

"If you miss your bus you may wait up to an hour," said Burton.

And riders are going to have to wait  a little longer to see improvements since the Memphis gas tax is staying the same.

Mata says on December 2, some riders will see improvements.

People who ride the bus on Poplar will see it coming around more often and those in the Macon area will see some additional routes.