MATA Proposes Layoffs, Route Cuts And Changes

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(Memphis) MATA employees face layoffs, while bus routes will likely change or get cut, due to a $4.5 million budget gap.

Some bus drivers have already been notified they’ll be losing their jobs.

While the exact number of total layoffs has not been determined, the cuts will affect all departments within MATA.

Councilman Lee Harris told News Channel 3 he was informed of as many as 50 people who will be laid off.

Two public hearings were scheduled to allow people to comment on the changes. The first happened at the Ed Rice Community Center in Frayser Tuesday evening.

The second will take place on Thursday, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Airways Transit Center, located at 3033 Airways Boulevard, Memphis, TN 38131.

MATA's entire operating budget is almost $59 million. This fiscal year, they are receiving $1.5 million less in federal and state funds, and $1.8 million less in city funds. Meanwhile, costs of fuel and equipment are rising.

At Tuesday’s meeting, about 100 people packed a room to voice their concerns about how these cuts would affect their own jobs.

“I have been on a bus when people have called in and said, this bus is running late. And you know what their manager says? Don’t even worry about coming in. That’s sad. There is no way we can get ahead if we do not have a quality public transportation system,” said Sheila Williams.

Several people who use wheelchairs arrived at the meeting to express how some of the changes would greatly affect their ability to get around on their own.

“This is not right,” said Larry Wilburn, “Come on, y’all. Get out of your fine cars and ride the bus.”

A group called the Bus Riders Union also showed up in yellow shirts.

Bennett Foster, who is part of that group, said that the city of Memphis needs a dedicated revenue stream for public transportation, like other cities do.

“We give away millions of dollars every year in corporate welfare, with payment in lieu of taxes for corporations that say they’re going to create jobs. At the same time, we’re cutting public services for the people that actually get to those jobs,” he said.

The MATA board will be making final decisions at their meeting on August 5th.

There are currently three routes proposed to be cut entirely, while the majority of remaining routes may undergo schedule changes or route changes.

Those cuts and changes will determine the final number of layoffs.

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