MEMPHIS, Tenn.– The Memphis Area Transit Authority is getting $76 million in federal dollars for a new operations and maintenance facility along with the purchase of zero-emissions, electric buses.
U.S. Congressman Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) said the awards came from a bus program within the Infrastructure and Jobs Act signed into law in November 2021.
“Without transportation, we are not a first-class country and we’ve always been first in infrastructure, we’re no longer first in infrastructure. But this is the biggest step since Eisenhower in getting things back to there,” Cohen said.
These awards come on top of other federal grants in the works like the Memphis Innovation Corridor Bus Rapid Transit System.
Area leaders are saying these investments are crucial.
“The Ford plant, the highest investment in the history of Ford, $5.6 billion, 6,000 jobs, how are we going to get them there if we don’t have efficient and effective transportation,” said Beverly Robertson, President and CEO of Greater Memphis Chamber.
We asked if this added money will go toward expanding services in communities needing service. MATA CEO Gary Rosenfeld told us the money will go toward a new bus maintenance facility, which would positively impact the level of service that’s being provided.
“Reliable buses are an important aspect of service delivery and this will help us gain efficiency in our maintenance operations,” Rosenfeld said.
It will also keep more buses on the road longer.
“The grant money will also upgrade the North/South Main line, like 42 to be our T status, which is high frequency bus service,” Rosenfeld said.
That line is currently running every 20 to 30 minutes. When it becomes a T line it will be about every 10 minutes.
“That increases capacity, it shortens wait times, it shortens overall ride times because people that are transferring to other buses don’t have to wait as long,” Rosenfeld said.
But Rosenfeld said there is still a greater need for local participation and funding to provide more services.
MATA is looking at several sites where the new facility could go which they said would provide hundreds of jobs.
The CEO told us there are still a lot of steps in the process but they could potentially be in a new facility in three years.