Wheelchair-bound MATA rider says service won’t take her to church after complaint

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A woman who relies on MATA transportation to get her to church says she thinks she’s being retaliated against for complaining about their services.

But the transit service responded that it's the result of changes to Sunday bus service.

Teresa Polzin is wheelchair-bound and pays for MATAplus services to receive scheduled rides.

But suddenly, she says, employees told her they can no longer take her to her Mormon church on Sundays.

Polzin signed up for MATA plus and put $61 on a punch card. It allows people to schedule rides — and for Polzin, church was the priority.

“They came to get me the first Sunday and it went well, and they came the second Sunday and they were a little bit late, so the third Sunday I made it a little bit earlier for pickup and then they were even later.”

She says the driver was then 45 minutes late on the next trip, leading her to complain. She says another time the driver went off-route to pick up someone else early.

“I got very angry," Polzin said. "I got very annoyed with that, made another complaint.”

She thinks that didn’t resonate well.

“The next week when I called to make my reservation, I gave them my name and told them where I want to go and they said 'Oh, we don’t go to that church anymore.'”

She pressed for more answers but says she couldn’t get an explanation as to why they would no longer take her there on Sundays.

We mapped it out and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is about 3.5 miles away from where she lives.

We met back up with her on the day you’re able to schedule rides for Sunday.

But after she asked to go to the Mormon church on Winchester Road, she was told that area is out of service on Sundays, but given no explanation.

The inconvenience that’s keeping Polzin from her worship.

“It’s just a situation where you think there’s no more religious persecution with all of the anger and the angst and the violence and the demonstrators and dumping statues, where’s just the basic right fall in?”

MATA said Thursday it's a result of new service changes that went into effect Aug. 6

“Since fixed route service is no longer available near her church located at 4520 Winchester Road on Sunday, our team informed her that the destination was not available when she called to make a reservation earlier today. MATAplus service can only operate during the same times as the fixed route service.

"However, MATA will continue to provide her transportation from her home to her church for the next 30 days until she has an opportunity to find alternative transportation. MATAplus routinely offers an extension of service for 30 days to customers when we determine they are no longer in the service area.”

MATAplus delivered 195,129 trips during FY 2017.

All of MATA's changes must be approved by their board of commissioners. MATA spokespeople encourage people with comments or concerns to contact them and check for updates here.

The next service change is expected in December and MATA says they'll inform the public soon regarding when public hearings will be scheduled for that particular service change.