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MATA says financial difficulties mean no free rides for vets this Veterans Day

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- MATA says their financial problems are so bad they decided not to allow free rides to veterans this Veteran's Day.

Free rides on Veterans Day is a service they've provided for years, but it's no secret MATA has been battling budget problems.

Earl Dockeroy said he's a Vietnam veteran. He's also a bus rider. On Friday, he was surprised MATA wasn't offering rides on Veterans Day this year.

"They should give a man a free ride one day for serving his country," said Dockeroy.

MATA released this statement on their Facebook page Thursday:

For many years, MATA has offered free bus rides to veterans on Veterans Day as a way to thank our veterans for their military service and sacrifice. However, MATA is currently experiencing some financial challenges. Given this, MATA has made the difficult decision to not offer free bus rides to veterans tomorrow on Friday, November 11. We hope to offer this free service to our veterans in the future again. Thank you in advance for your understanding.

"Financial difficulties? Whewww, I mean I'm at a loss for words on that one," said another veteran.

Dockeroy said when he rode the bus some drivers made their own decision.

"Some of them accept it and some of them don't," he said.

MATA fares vary. According to their website, they range from $.40 to a $1.75 depending on age and if someone has disabilities. MATA would not say how many veterans have used the free services on Veterans Day in the past.

WREG has done multiple stories about MATA's need for more money after they said ridership decreased and buses have fallen into disrepair.

This veteran said while he's disappointed there's no rides this year, there are restaurants that help out those who have sacrificed for our country.

"I think more veterans look forward to eating than riding the bus," he said.

WREG reached out to the Mayor's Office for comment but were told to speak with someone from MATA.