MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Riding a MATA bus this week has been free for passengers as MATA tries to help out during the coronavirus outbreak. But beginning next week MATA is dropping some routes and adding a 3 more which means some people might not have a way to get to work.
“How would you get to work if there was no bus service? No, I couldn’t they talking about going to a Sunday schedule. But those buses right there they don’t run on a Sunday schedule," said MATA customer Mark Jones.
Jones has worked at UPS for four years. He relies on the bus to get from his North Memphis home to his job near the airport.
But as ridership drops because of Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland’s safer-at-home order, MATA announced that starting Monday, most buses will run on a Sunday schedule -- including the routes Jones uses.
Finding a seat has also been harder, this week MATA began limiting seating on buses and trolley to just 10 passengers, complying with social distancing guidelines.
Jones didn't have a problem with that even though it means he had to ride more buses.
But he needs his job.
“If I don’t work I can’t get no groceries in the house. I gotta eat,” he said.
Jones says a lot of people rely on MATA.
“Not only me you got other people that work here as well I’m looking out for our neighbors," said Jones. "What about the federal express people, same thing for them.”
MATA heard many of those same concerns and late Friday announced that three more routes servicing East Parkway, Winchester and the Airport area will continue to run during the week.
That’s on top of Route 34 to Baptist Hospital that will now run seven days a week, and the Medical District “Groove” shuttle that will stay on its normal schedule.
In a statement from MATA, CEO Gary Rosenfeld explained the change due to customer concern:
“When we first announced reduced levels of service, we were focusing on routes that were considered essential. But we heard from some customers today and decided that we needed to add three more routes to try to be as responsive to their needs as possible. However, we want everyone to understand that we’re responding to the reality of our resources. With ridership dropping and knowing that several businesses are not operating at this time per current Executive Orders, we are making decisions with the information that we have at the time. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, we will likely make more adjustments of service and we are requesting that employers be as flexible as possible as well.”
The following bus routes will operate from March 30 until further notice:
- 2 Madison
- 4 Walker
- 8 Chelsea
- 11 Frayser Raleigh
- 26 Hickory Hill
- 36 Hack Cross
- 39 S. Third
- 40 Wolfchase
- 42 Crosstown
- 50 Poplar
- 52 Jackson
- 53 Summer
- 56 Lamar
- 57 Park
- 64 Airport Shuttle
Bus routes to provide connections to essential services
- Route 34 Walnut Grove will operate seven days a week as it normally operates Monday through Friday
- Route 500 The Groove Shuttle will operate Monday through Friday as normally scheduled to serve Memphis Medical District
- Newly added routes:
- Route 7 Air Park will operate six days a week from Monday through Saturday on a modified schedule
- Route 32 East Parkway will operate six days a week from Monday through Saturday on a modified schedule
- Route 69 Winchester will operate six days a week from Monda-Saturday on a modified schedule