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About Town: The threat of bus route cuts in Memphis neighborhoods
 
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Residents exit a MATA bus that transported them from the Klondike and Smokey City neighborhood to the Downtown Farmers Market on July 24. (Lucy Garrett/Special to the Daily Memphian file)
 

Residents exit a MATA bus that transported them from the Klondike and Smokey City neighborhood to the Downtown Farmers Market on July 24. (Lucy Garrett/Special to the Daily Memphian file)

Welcome to About Town, where we take a deeper dive into one neighborhood each week while also highlighting the latest news, developments and back stories from Memphis’ neighborhoods. This week’s focus: Boxtown

Memphis Area Transit Authority bus riders in several communities could see some significant changes to their commute if the transit agency’s new proposal is implemented later this fall.

The MATA board on Tuesday, Sept. 28, plans to vote on the plan that includes adjusting frequencies for more than a dozen routes and discontinuing four fixed routes altogether – 6 Northaven, 31 Firestone, 38 Boxtown and 82 Germantown.

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MATA considering route cuts to four communities this fall

Unsurprisingly, a couple of bus rider organizations have pushed back against MATA’s plan.

For MATA CEO Gary Rosenfeld, the decision is a logical one. He says replacing underperforming routes such as Boxtown with Ready! – the new on-demand service program and a thriving one – makes sense.

MATA officials believe the pilot program’s success can translate to other areas, where the fixed routes are at risk of elimination.

On the other side of this argument, Citizens for Better Service and Memphis Bus Riders Union representatives believe MATA has gone back on its word. That replacing fixed routes with on-demand service is not the right way to build trust between the transit agency and its riders.

There’s also the belief within these organizations MATA has not done enough to improve ridership in these communities.

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The proposal remains just that for now. What happens at next week’s meeting is uncertain. The proposal could pass as is or undergo several major changes before it’s implemented.

Though if the initial changes move forward, it’s another indicator mass transit is changing permanently in Memphis – and the neighborhoods affected this time around will be the first to see its impact.


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