Guest column

Bus riders’ advocate: Restore Saturday bus schedule

By , Guest Columnist Published: June 01, 2020 4:00 AM CT
Guest Columnist

Johnnie Mosley

Johnnie Mosley is a native Memphian and founder of Citizens For Better Service. He is the son of John C. White, a Memphis sanitation worker for five decades.

I am deeply disappointed in the fact that in a recent interview, Memphis Area Transit Authority CEO Gary Rosenfeld gave the public the impression that MATA could not run the buses on a Saturday schedule as a result of the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control. 

<strong>Johnnie Mosley</strong>

Johnnie Mosley

With all due respect, the CDC guidelines are just recommendations to limit the further spread of COVID-19, not orders to strip bus riders of their public transportation lifeline. I am convinced that if the administration does not want to run the bus service on a Saturday schedule, this should not prevent the MATA Board from stepping up to the plate and passing a resolution to run the buses on a Saturday schedule.

Because of the transportation predicament of many bus riders, I am reminded of the great American writer Thomas Paine, who wrote many years ago, “These are the times that try men’s souls.”


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I see bus riders, literally, singing the blues about MATA. I see bus riders wondering whether MATA is just as bad as COVID-19.

The CDC guidelines are just recommendations to limit the further spread of COVID-19, not orders to strip bus riders of their public transportation lifeline. I am convinced that if the administration does not want to run the bus service on a Saturday schedule, this should not prevent the MATA Board from stepping up to the plate and passing a resolution to run the buses on a Saturday schedule. 

(Editor’s note: MATA announced March 30 that in response to the coronavirus pandemic, buses would operate on a Sunday schedule “until further notice ... along with some additional service for providing connections to essential services.” MATA CEO Rosenfeld issued a statement May 19 saying that changes are being considered to respond to Phase 2 of Shelby County’s reopening plan.) 

Although I understand why MATA is telling the public to “Be patient,” MATA should have the common sense to know that when you are not the one filling out an online application for unemployment benefits, and when you are not the one worrying about getting to the grocery stores and just surviving on the “Jericho Road” in Memphis, it is easy to say to those who are struggling amid COVID-19 to “Be patient.”


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I respect the fact that the MATA administration has a lot on its shoulders at this time. But I still believe that civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke the truth when he said, “Cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And then expedience comes along and asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? Conscience asks the question, is it right?” And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.


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Therefore, if the burden of leadership ever becomes too heavy for the MATA administration to bear during these dark days of COVID-19, if the MATA administration really believes that the ridership will never be as smart as the experts at MATA, I am sure history will not be disappointed if members of the MATA administration go to their computers and write their letters of resignation.

The time has come for the MATA administration to understand that MATA must become, in the words of President Jimmy Carter, “as good as its people.”

Editor’s Note: The Daily Memphian is making our coronavirus coverage accessible to all readers — no subscription needed. Our journalists continue to work around the clock to provide you with the extensive coverage you need; if you can subscribe, please do

Topics

MATA Citizens for Better Service Memphis Area Transit Authority buses johnnie mosley

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