MATA bus changes could affect Memphis drivers - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

MATA bus changes could affect Memphis drivers

(WMC-TV) - Memphis is part of a growing trend that is already being seen in some of the fastest growing cities in the country.

Memphis will be changing the way some of its major bus routes run, which could make a difference for everyone on the roads.

The Memphis Area Transit Authority won a federal grant to move buses through stoplights as fast as possible using GPS positioning, intersection sensors, and on-bus electronics.

"Allow buses to send a signal to traffic signals to allow the light to either change to green as the bus approaches or shorten the time the bus would have to stop at a red signal," said MATA Deputy General Manager Tom Fox.

A benefit of the system is that it could cut travel times by 20 percent for bus passengers.

MATA officials are hoping this will motivate more people to ride the bus, at least in the busiest parts of the city.

Nashville already has a comparable form of the technology, which is called Bus Rapid Transit. More elaborate versions can be found in St Louis and Cleveland.

"Of course we are in the same traffic as cars but if we get a little advantage then that makes the bus a little more attractive," explained Fox.

Even people who are not riding the bus could benefit from the changes.

"If they are traveling behind a bus they might notice a light turning green quicker than it would normally," said Fox.

Though, if you are in a side street you might have to wait a little bit longer as the bus goes through the light. But Fox estimates it would only be a few seconds longer than usual.

MATA expects the changes to be in place during fall of this year, beginning with Poplar Avenue then Elvis Presley Boulevard.

The city is paying for the new system with a city match federal grant. The city was only responsible for 10 percent of the nearly $1 million price tag.

This is just the first step, though more funds would be needed to expand to more streets and add elements.

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