By: MBRU | September 08, 2016



Memphis, TN—The  Memphis Bus Riders Union and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 713 are  launching a new campaign with a petition to restore the 31 Crosstown, a  historic bus route eliminated by Memphis Area Transit Authority in 2013.  The two groups represent hundreds of  MATA drivers and riders who say  that "the route was a lifeline" for under served neighborhoods in North and South Memphis.

The  campaign hopes to revive MATA’s ridership by restoring the service that  current riders want. Willie Barber, Business Agent for Local 713 says  that public opinion of MATA can be repaired by reinstating the 31.

“Any bus rider will tell you how important this route is. MATA’s own reports show the 31 Crosstown had the third highest daily ridership of all the routes, about 2,600 passengers a day.  Because it went into the neighborhoods of Riverside and New Chicago,  areas where many households have no vehicle, and connected those  residents with resources as well as other major routes in Midtown.” he said.

MATA: Transit Operating Environment, SRTP 2011

The  31 provided frequent service, running every 15 minutes during peak  hours, and served riders from 5am to 12pm. The petition calls for fully restoring the route to ensure that it’s many riders will return:

“We,  the undersigned, call for the immediate restoration of the 31  Crosstown, connecting the residential areas of New Chicago and  Riverview-Kansas. We demand service that is frequent, and operates  through the full duration of the MATA service day.”

Rep. Barbara Cooper encourages us to fight for bus service. This and header photo by Schaeffer Mallory

The  unions believe that low enrollment in neighborhood schools is also connected to MATA service cuts. Students in the affected neighborhoods  are strained due to the recent closings of Northside and Carver High  Schools.

"I  worry about my son who walks almost 2 miles to Manassas every day,  without crosswalks or even decent sidewalks, when the 31 would have  taken him there safely" said MBRU Co-Chair Cynthia Bailey.

The importance of transit infrastructure to the economic stability of a community cannot be denied. As neighborhoods in North and South Memphis experience worsening segregation and poverty with every lost bus route, major developers in Downtown and Midtown solicit for transit funding to improve infrastructure around their projects.  The unions see their campaign as part of the solution to this form of systemic racism and inequitable development in Memphis.

“Public  transit is a civil right, and we must increase bus service for  low-income and minority residents to properly address racial and  economic injustice in Memphis. North and South Memphis deserve equal  access to our city.” the petition states.

ATU Local 713 & MBRU Petition to restore the 31 Crosstown

MBRU  and ATU Local 713 are holding a community event at New Chicago CDC to kick start the campaign. The event will be September 17th, at 1036 Firestone Ave, Memphis, TN 38107. For more information on the Memphis Bus Riders Union, visit or contact them at 901-205-9737. For more on ATU Local 713, visit their Facebook page.

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By: MBRU | August 15, 2016


Memphis, TN— The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 713 hosted a town hall meeting on Saturday, August 13, 2016 to discuss how cuts to bus service and route consolidation negatively affect underserved communities in Memphis. 

The town hall was held at the Gaston Community Center on 1046 South Third Street, near the path of the old 31 Crosstown bus route. Severall community leaders an organizations were present. The conversation was facilitated by the Memphis Bus Riders Union.

Over 80 community members joined us for the day

The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) represents MATA's bus and trolley operators, mechanics, laborers, and information specialists. In April, ATU Local 713 joined the Memphis Bus Riders Union (MBRU) in a campaign to increase city funding for buses, which resulted in a $7.5 million increase in MATA's budget this fiscal year. Now the two groups have set their sights on restoring service in areas like North and South Memphis, where they say cuts have most affected quality of life for black residents.

"It's just a lose-lose situation for the public when we've got to get out there and routes are constantly being cut," said local union rep Fred Williams.


Thousands of citizens in Memphis rely on bus service to get to work, school, medical care, and other daily needs. In the past decade, the removal of bus routes like the #31 Crosstown have disproportionately affected low-income and historically black neighborhoods like New Chicago and Riverside, where the need for public transit is most pressing.

"Anytime you remove infrastructure from a community, you kill the neighborhood, and then you force people into poverty. We need transportation, and we need these communities to be vibrant," said local union rep Terry Moss.

Check out the Local Memphis 24 Story!

Stay tuned for information about our next town hall in North Memphis! 

Your content goes here...

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By: MBRU | June 16, 2016


City council got a standing ovation for unanimous approval of the fy 2017 operating and capital budget, which includes $7.5 million increase for MATA.                           

This additional funding will help add new buses to the system and prevent further service cuts! We've never seen a budget approved so quickly.

Thank you all for your emails and phone calls and meetings with Mayor Strickland and the City Council. A special thank you to the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 713, Citizens For Better Service, The Memphis Advisory Council For People With Disabilities, the Memphis Transportation Advisory Committee, Innovate Memphis, and the Sierra Club and Lifeline to Success for pushing this issue into the spotlight, and thank you Councilmembers Edmund Ford Jr., Berlin Boyd, Martavius Jones, Janis Fullilove and Mayor Jim Strickland for showing critical support for our public transit system.

This is a good temporary fix that will stave off cuts to service. However, we must continue as a city to push for increased funding from all levels of government to ensure that public transit works for all who need it.

Building Power in Tennessee!

           We at MBRU understand that the power of labor and community united across the state is our only hope for resisting the legislative and corporate attacks on working families in Tennessee. That's why the MBRU Executive Committee has travelled to Nashville several times over the past few months, sharing and strategizing with ATU Memphis Local 713 & Nashville Local 1235 and the Nashville based grassroots organization Workers Dignity. Together we are working to replicate transit rider organizing and rider-driver alliances towards a statewide movement for public transit.

Let's build a movement for PUBLIC transit here in Tennessee; against the privatizers and their "sweatshops on wheels"; against fare increases and service cuts; and for transit that provides true mobility and access for all.

Celebrate Juneteenth With Us!

Juneteenth is a celebration commemorating the greatest racial and economic justice victory in our nation's history: the end of slavery! Join us and our freinds United Campus Workers for celebration, kinship--and food!--to mark this historic day, and reflect on what it means for us in these times.

Gather up at at the Overton Park East Parkway Pavilion with us. Program and supper starts at . Let us know if you have questions or want to help!

In Solidarity,

MBRU Executive Committee

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By: MBRU | April 26, 2016

ABOVE: Willie Barber, ATU Local 713, speaks to media during the #BudgetForBuses rally.

Thanks to everyone who came out in support of our #BudgetForBuses rally! With the ATU Local 713, we've been fighting for the city to prioritize replacing older buses over trolleys, and Mayor Strickland's 2016-2017 budget is a good start: MATA will receive $5 million in capital funding to purchase new buses. However, MATA will also receive only $2.5 million in operations, which falls short of what we need. In February, MATA CEO Ron Garrison asked the city for $8 million in operations, and said that MATA is "on the verge of collapse."

MBRU Co-chairs Cynthia Bailey and Sammie Hunter spoke to WREG and WMC Action News 5 about the new budget:


"I think it's a start. We're OK with it, but we're not really satisfied. We need another $8 to 9 million." 



"We'll fight to get the money for the system." -Sammie


Garrison spoke with MBRU members and promised that there will be no service cuts. But our work isn't done: MBRU will work with the city and MATA to find new ways to increase MATA's operating dollars. Our victory on the 19th is just the beginning!

Prioritize, don't Privatize!

We'd like to thank all of you who called and emailed the TN legislature to oppose the "Public-Private Transportation Act of 2016" (SB 2093/HB 2407). Unfortunately, our voices were not heard by our representatives. The "P3" bill will allow private companies to access public funding to pay for "any or all" of the operating, maintenance, and construction of mass transit projects.

We have studied P3 legislation across the country, and we've found that in most cases private companies subsidize their profits from federal grants, cheap labor, and increased user fees. As companies sell shiny rail systems to towns across the country, the public is forced to fight for access to information, contracts, and decision maker's meetings. P3 legislation is one of many tools of privatization that weaken our democracy.

There will be a public budget hearing for MATA on APRIL 27th, 5PM on the 5th floor of City Hall. Come out and show your city leaders that increased MATA funding is still a top priority! We'll keep you posted as budget deliberations continue.

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By: MBRU | April 01, 2016

Mayor Jim Strickland has an opportunity to change the fate of the Memphis Area Transit Authority as he prepares for his budget presentation this April. 

We've met with the Mayor and countless stakeholders in pusuit of a robust investment in public transit. With bus riders and operators leading the charge, we have shed light on the #BusCrisis. By demanding #transitNOTtrolleys, we have forged a new narrative about WHO should take priority. The media and our elected officials are increasingly noticing the race and class disparities in transportation funding. 

Now it's time to see the fruits of our labor. Will MATA receive it's funding request for an increase of $8 million for operating and $5 million for new buses in Mayor Strickland's budget? Or will bus riders across Memphis suffer from more cuts?

Join us at City Hall April 19th for Mayor Strickland's budget presentation to City Council!

We will meet up in front of City Hall at 2:30 for a rally and press conference. At 3:30, we will enter the council meeting and listen to the budget presentation.

Watch the Facebook event page for other ways to get involved.

See you there!

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By: MBRU | March 18, 2016

Bus riders and operators across Tennessee need your help fighting a bill that would allow the privatization of mass transit construction, operating and maintenance.

SB 2093/ HB 2407 (or The Public-Private Transportation Act) opens the door to "public-private partnerships", also known as P3s which have a bad track record when it comes to providing safe, accessible and affordable transit to the public. Private transit companies routinely cut service and increase fares in order to make a profit. 

The bill is moving fast, and has the support of powerful foreign corporations, law firms and private transportation entities that all want a piece of the action. 

Private entities would be able to finance their projects entirely through public funds and, in addition, collect user fees for use of their transit facilities, meaning increased bus fares. 

Additionally, P3s in transit greatly decrease transparency, accountability, and public input. Private companies are allowed to keep their books closed and are not required to hold public meetings. 

The Public-Private Transportation Act of 2016 is not about making transit planning and operation more efficient, affordable, or safe – it’s about private companies raking in profits off the backs of Tennessee residents. 

MBRU and the Amalgamated Transit Union hope you will join us in calling on our legislature to vote NO on SB 2093/HB 2407. Keep private profiteers out of our transportation funds!

Our elected representatives should study the far reaching, negative consequences of “public-private partnerships” in mass transit.

Karen Camper (615) 741-1898   Reginald Tate (615) 741-2509 
   Curry Todd (615) 741-1866

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By: MBRU | February 08, 2016

This will be a decisive year for the future of MATA.
As MBRU prepares for city budget season, riders & drivers are worried about more route cuts, broken-down buses, privatization, and the prioritization of trolleys and "choice riders" over working families.
But before we get ready to fight for transit justice in 2016, join us for some food and fellowship on  as we celebrate our accomplishments and charge up for the struggle ahead! 

When: SaturdayFebruary 13, 2016
12:00 - 2:00 PM
Where: Memphis Center for Independent Living 
1633 Madison Ave
Memphis, Tennessee 38104

Admission: $10.00
No one will be turned away for lack of funds.
If you wish to pay your cover or make a donation online just clickHERE, select the ammount you want to contribute and put "MBRU" in the fields under "in honor of" as pictured here: 
If you are interested in bringing food to the anniversary fundraiser or giving a ride to a member please contact Bennett at (901) 210-3768.

MBRU & ATU Local 713 Meet with Mayor Strickland
Last week the leadership of MBRU and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 713 that represents MATA employees met with our newly elected mayor, to discuss the #BusCrisis. 
We talked about the need to increase capital and operating funds in the city budget, specifically set aside for new buses, increased frequency of service and late night service. The drivers representing Local 713 talked about issues ranging from buses with broken wheelchair lifts, broken doors, overcrowing, fires and other dangerous conditions.

We are very excited to work together with Local 713. As riders and drivers of the bus system we are the most affected by these issues. We will continue to work hard to protect and expand our public transit system! 
MBRU In The News
We are very concerned about the statements made by Mr. Garrison, GM of MATA, in a recent article. Privatization ALWAYS leads to higher fares and less service. What's done in the dark will be brought to the light! 
"Garrison’s approach has its critics. The Memphis Bus Riders Union says that hiring private contractors to provide a public service isn’t equitable for the thousands of Memphians that rely on public transportation."
Read the full article here: 

Upcomming Events

*Public Meeting on upcoming route changes: 

Benjamin Hooks Library 3030 Poplar Ave, Tuesday 2/9/2016 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. It will be an open house format with MATA representatives on hand to provide information, accept comments, and discuss individual concerns.



February 13th12 to 2 PM at the Memphis Center For Independent Living 1633 Madison Ave. 


In Solidarity, 

MBRU Executive Committee 

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By: MBRU | January 21, 2016

"Let us be dissatisfied until the tragic walls that separate the outer city of wealth and comfort from the inner city of poverty and despair shall be crushed by the battering rams of the forces of justice." -MLK

Photo Credit Tim Wheat, Organizer with Memphis Center For Independent Living

Hundreds of people joined us on Monday the 18th for MLK Day as we celebrated the life of Dr. King and raised his demands for racial and economic justice. In the spirit of Dr. King we used the march to highlight transportation racism as reflected in the current #BusCrisis.  

We know of at least five buses that caught on fire in the past year due to lack of funds for maintenance and new buses. Yet we see millions in transportation dollars being set aside on all levels of government for costly trolleys and downtown development projects. In addition to catching on fire, buses are overcrowded and breaking down on a daily basis. These are unacceptably dangerous conditions that thousands of working families endure daily to keep this city running. We are demanding respect for MATA drivers and riders through fully funding public transit in this years budget proposals.

Photo credit: Andrea Morales

We thank Andrea Morales for beautifully capturing the energy of the day! Check out her website to see more great work:

Photo credit: Andrea Morales

Stay tuned and get involved! Join us at our next meeting this Feb. 13th! 

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By: MBRU | January 12, 2016

Thank you for all your love and support in 2015.
As MBRU prepares to advance the struggle in 2016, 
let's reflect on what we've accomplished together. 

Fighting for public transportation that puts bus riders first is no easy task, but just look at what we accomplished in 2015 with grassroots organizing:



  • MBRU joined forces with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 713, meeting monthly with the union to share concerns, strategy and fellowship between drivers and riders. Through these meetings MBRU and ATU Local 713 has created a set of priorities that will guide our lobbying efforts. Together we are launching a campaign for increased operating funds from the city, to fill MATA’s deficit, as well as increasing mechanics, drivers and service, and increasing capital funds specifically for new buses, shelters and improved facilities for riders and employees.


  • We won improvements to MATA’s most used bus facility, the North End Terminal, adopted by the MATA Board to be included in MATA’s fy2016 budget.


  • MBRU pressured MATA to stop it’s “no sagging” policy used by security guards to racially profile and harass riders.


  • MBRU worked with students at University of Memphis and Southwest Community College to support the development of MBRU campus chapters to address the transportation needs of students and campus workers, while engaging students in dialogue around equitable public policy. MBRU student organizers have held film screenings, participated in transit workshops and spoken on panels at the 2015 Environmental Justice Conference and the Workforce To Work summit at University of Memphis.


  • MBRU joined a national effort of transit rider organizations, advocates and the Amalgamated Transit Union to push for increased bus capital in the FAST act transportation bill, and successfully lobbied our mayor and congressman to support the bill.


  • MBRU lobbied Mayor Wharton to secure increased city funding for MATA in the FY 2016 budget





Meet the new Executive Committee! 


At our December meeting we elected the new executive committee that will lead our work in 2016. These transit warriors have demonstrated a strong commitment to the work of MBRU.



Cynthia Bailey & Sammie Hunter


Former Outreach Coordinator, Bailey has been a fearless organizer with MBRU for 3 years. Hunter joined MBRU in 2013 and led MBRU as co-chair in 2015. His no-nonsense approach to negotiation continues to protect the interests MBRU.  



Justin Davis  

Davis is a junior at Rhodes College. Davis joined the MidSouth Peace & Justice Center as an intern in 2015 and quickly found his home in the trenches with MBRU! 



Bennett Foster

Foster joined MBRU in 2012 and served as secretary in 2015. Foster is an organizer with the Transit Justice program at the MidSouthPeace & Justice Center


Outreach Coordinator

Kimberly Harden 

Harden is a dedicated organizer. In 2015 she worked in the Outreach Committee and became well known in the community as a voice for justice. 


2016 We're coming for ya!  

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By: MBRU | October 19, 2015

We'd like to wish our former Co-Chair Scarlet Ponder (1st on the left) well in her new journey as Transit Planner for the Memphis Area Transit Authority! Scarlet resigned from the MBRU executive committee at our Oct 12 meeting. We are very sad to see her go but very proud of her and thankful for the time she has given to the movement for transit justice. Scarlet will now use her sharp planning skills to help transform MATA, but will continue her support for MBRU and commitment to meeting the needs of bus riders. We are pleased to announce that the membership has elected Outreach Coordinator Cynthia Bailey (3rd from the left) as interim Co-Chair.

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By: MBRU | September 11, 2015

Don't miss our monthly general meeting where we discuss current public transit issues. We hope to see you there!

Saturday Sept 12th 2015 

12 to 2PM 

Memphis Center For Independent Living 

1633 Madison Ave. 

(across from Cash Saver, bus #2) 

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By: MBRU | June 05, 2015

On June 2, MBRU met with the local branch of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents drivers and mechanics. ATU has extended an invitation for us to check in at their monthly meetings, and we've extended the same invitation for our own. All over the country, bus riders and drivers have seen that working together provides great opportunities for increased resources in the fight for better public transit. This is a powerful alliance, and we look forward to working with ATU to promote a better environment for everyone!

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By: MBRU | March 04, 2015

We are pleased to present the Memphis Bus Riders Union report on the Will Hudson Transit Center, commonly known as the North End Terminal. 

After 1 year of gathering input from riders, MBRU members, MATA staff and drivers, through workshops and outreach, MBRU has finally drafted a report that can be used to determine the fate of the NET. This is a living document that we hope will continue to grow as expansive as the collective imagination of the Bus Riders Union.   

Click here to see the full report!  



                 [above image: Riders who are targeted by security are often handcuffed and put in a holding cell without windows or security cameras. Our plan removes the holding cell and transforms this area into a "kids station" for parents who's children need an activities to pass the time between buses.] 

Our recommendations within this report are community driven and designed by bus riders, making this a one-of-a-kind bottom up development plan, and a model for public participation.   

Mayor Wharton's CIP budget proposal includes $2 million for "bus facilities". MBRU sees this as an opportunity to move forward with our recommended low-cost improvements. 

Our recommendations are organized into the following categories: 

I. Safety 

II. Sanitary Conditions: Restroom Renovations 

III. Customer Service 

IV. Public Engagement 

V. Quality of Life 

    a. Amenities 

    b. Atmosphere

Category: MATA improvements 


By: MBRU | February 19, 2015

MATA is working overtime to overhaul its obsolete trolley system. In October 2014, the   Memphis Flyer   reported that “[MATA General Manager Ron] Garrison says he's working hard to get the trolleys back on track.” He’s not lying.

On January 20, 2015, Garrison appeared at the City Council Public Works, Transportation & General Services Committee to request additional funding from the 2015 Capital Improvement Program Budget for trolley restoration and improvements. On February 3, the resolution easily passed on its first vote.

Although there is one more vote in the public works committee before the resolution goes to the Council floor, MATA will likely get what they’re asking for. Elected to the position by a unanimous MATA Board of Commissioners in August 2014, Garrison’s plea for the trolleys may be the first time a MATA GM has aggressively lobbied for City capital funds.

Sadly, trolleys are motivating this heightened advocacy, and only trolleys will benefit from the results.   Memphis is not the only city working diligently on trolley upgrades or new streetcar development. These “trolley follies” have recently become a national trend; it was only 23 years ago when we paid millions to construct the trolley system in Memphis. The Madison Avenue Line is only ten years old and cost $56 million.

Interest in the unsustainable trolley or streetcar, light rail or monorail, etc. enjoys a nationwide resurgence every few years thanks to the powerful, but shortsighted, sway of downtown developers. However cute they look, these antiquated--or sometimes futuristic--amusement park rides often operate at a loss and deplete funding that could be applied to less expensive, more beneficial improvements to mass transit systems. As Lawrence Hanley, President of the Amalgamated Transit Union, said in a recent letter to a Milwaukee council member:                                     

“[I]t may seem odd for our union to oppose a streetcar which will undoubtedly create many jobs for our members. However, based on our recent experience with streetcar projects throughout the U.S., we believe that your resources would be more wisely spent on the expansion of your bus network. In fact, we are very concerned that the streetcar will negatively impact existing bus routes and hurt the working families who rely on them.”

In Memphis, growing pressure from the media and downtown interests may prevent MATA from looking at more cost-effective improvements to its service. Well-intentioned though they may be, MATA’s leadership has little time left in the day, let alone the funds, to improve bus facilities. Instead, they are stuck playing favorites in a dual system that leaves the bus-dependent commuter in the dust. In addition to the familiar tendency of downtown development bankrupting public services, trolley service has no proven economic return to the bank from which it takes. In contrast, the expansion of accessible, reliable, and frequent bus service throughout the city would attract more residents, more tourists, and more revenue.

At the January MATA Board of Commissioners meeting, Garrison spent the majority of his report to the Board chronicling his work to “restore our trolleys.” MATA Board members stressed the urgency of returning the service, one even asking, “What do we have to do to get the trolleys back? Do we need to do a sit-in?” Another complained that the first thing people ask when you say you are a MATA Board member is, “When are the trolleys coming back?”

Garrison responded that MATA is doing as much as possible, including meeting with state legislators and representatives from state and federal transportation agencies. And, of course, requesting additional local funding from our City’s beleaguered Capital Improvements Program (CIP) Budget. He also cited City pressure to have the trolleys operational by May for Memphis In May events as well as the grand opening of Bass Pro, the new tenant of the 24-year-old Memphis Pyramid.

Too often, a lack of dedicated revenue for mass transit in Memphis and across Tennessee pits “choice riders” and tourists against those who rely on bus service every day. This sudden flurry of lobbying for funding from the Tennessee Department of Transportation and from the City’s CIP Budget is a clear example of the enduring priority crisis throughout City government, which routinely excludes low-income neighborhoods in North and South Memphis from new transit improvements.

In 2013, massive cuts in bus service devastated the economies of several historic, working class Memphis neighborhoods. But you won’t see bus riders on the news talking about the loss of bus service in Northaven and New Chicago or Riverside; you won’t hear about the economic damage done to their entire communities. Instead, the narrative is dominated by Trolley Night regulars and Main Street businesses.

So here are a few of the things the Bus Riders Union would like to see capital funding go towards before   it’s blown on another shiny object:

  • Relocation of MATA headquarters

The relocation of MATA’s headquarters on Levee Road is urgent. A 2012 study commissioned by MATA calculated that a relocation of MATA headquarters would cost $60 million, with ten percent of the cost, $6 million, contributed from the City’s CIP Budget. The facility, which was built on a landfill at the edge of the Wolf River, is sinking, and will continue to do so forever. Year after year, millions of dollars are spent on repairing damage caused by the steady sinking. The entire transit system is at constant risk of utility fires, floods, and sinkholes, presenting a danger to the employees. MATA staff at the headquarters’ garage won’t even drink the water, citing contamination due to the presence of the landfill. It is too expensive for City Council to keep putting this off.

  • Repairs and maintenance of the Hudson Transit Center (formerly the North End Terminal)

Numerous expensive projects are being planned for the Pinch District this spring, while the Hudson Transit Center at the northern tip of the Pinch will continue to lack basic repairs and renovations. This appears to be an oversight; City leadership should be motivated to clean up and improve the terminal because of the surge in tourists, pedestrian traffic, and new businesses they eagerly anticipate arriving with the opening of Bass Pro. But more importantly, remodeling the bathrooms, installing free wi-fi, and adding greenery and art will improve conditions for the dedicated daily rider and MATA employees.

  • Repairs and replacements for damaged bus shelters and adding additional shelters

CIP funding is also needed to overhaul bus shelters that are currently in a dangerous state of disrepair. Additional shelters should be built along the routes now overcrowded due to the 2013 service cuts, particularly in the North and South Memphis neighborhoods where bus service still exists. New signs on the shelters should include maps, something completely missing from Memphis bus stops. This lack of maps makes it almost impossible for a new rider to navigate the system or for a seasoned rider to track down a new route when her daily route to work has been cut.

Together, these projects would cost the City of Memphis less than an overhaul of our trolley system. At the January MATA Board meeting, Garrison reported that trolleys will cost about $750,000 - 1 million each to repair and at least $2.3 million each to replace. This does not include the costs of replacing or repairing the tracks and infrastructure. Those expenses will be covered by the $600,000 the public works committee is currently considering to put before the Council at the request of Garrison and the MATA Board.

The Bus Riders Union will be demanding funding for its priorities throughout this year’s budget deliberations. We hope that this spring the MATA leadership, the Council, and the Wharton Administration will seek to actively include bus riders when making the budget decisions that directly affect our lives.

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By: MBRU | January 14, 2015


MBRU founder and organizer Georgia "Mother" King was featured in the Commercial Appeal recently. Mother King continues to be an inspiration to local movements for civil rights and social justice. MBRU is proud to see her getting the recognition she deserves. 

“It can’t be business as usual in reference to the needs of the community, the underprivileged, the disadvantaged, the mentally ill, jobs,” she said. “I’m not just in this neighborhood here. I’m all over the city monitoring things.” 

Mother King has touched the hearts of many local leaders. (from the article) "Harris praised her work in challenging “the status quo of the treatment of the homeless and mentally ill. A long-time resident of Memphis, Georgia King is known throughout the city for her passion, intelligence and inspiring attitude, which is attributed to her motto: ‘I’ve got to keep moving,’” he said." -Former Memphis City Council member, now TN State Rep Lee Harris. 

Follow this link to read the full article : 

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By: MBRU | September 11, 2014


Slowly but surely we're making improvements at the Hudson Transit Center (aka North End Terminal). Now we have a charging station for your phones, ADA compliant soap and paper towel dispensers, and a large full system map!

If you have an idea for improving our main transit hub, contact us at or call (901) 205-9737

By: MBRU | September 11, 2014

MBRU organizers want evaluative data and reporting on any use of force by private security, more security cameras, and sensitivity training for guards. If security guards are not capable of showing restraint in minor conflicts then they should not be allowed to carry deadly weapons.

MBRU has addressed MATA staff and board directly and on the record at Board meetings and through email about specific needs in regards to security.

The report states "We want security to protect and serve the riders... that are commuting back and forth and not come at us like we are some criminals. Let's build the trust factor and start on a new path," Williams said. Which is just fine for MATA but the transit authority wants to see these proposals in writing and it hasn't." Fox13

According to 7 witnesses the guard had the can of mace in her hand as she followed the two women, one of whom was holding a baby.


By: MBRU | September 11, 2014

FULL ARTICLE from the Commercial Appeal  
By: Katherine Fretland  

Mary Godwin stood at the Downtown bus terminal and pointed to the spot where bus rider James “Semaj” Gray suffered fatal injuries on the concrete.

“Semaj was pushed off the bus right in this spot, right there,” she said.

A private guard with Pro-Tech Security was charged with aggravated assault resulting in the death of Gray, who died Aug. 3 after a 12-week coma. Now the Memphis Bus Riders Union is asking MATA to keep records of every use of force by its new private security guards and make the data available to the public.

Members of the union are also distributing forms for complaints and public input about the bus system. Pro-Tech’s contract expired July 31 and Ambassador Worldwide Protection Agency guards took over.

The union recently investigated how a child bystander was hit with pepper spray when a guard with the new company sprayed a woman at the Downtown terminal. It happened the day before members held a vigil for Gray, said bus riders union co-chairman Bennett Foster.

MATA spokeswoman Alison Burton said the pepper-spraying happened toward the outer edge of the property at 444 N. Main and was not captured on camera. The station’s 23 cameras are focused on the interior of the building, the parking lot and bus area. The guard alleged the woman who was pepper-sprayed had pushed her hand into the guard’s forehead.

“Due to recent events involving the use of force by (MATA) contracted private security, it is imperative that MATA install more security cameras at the Hudson Transit Center,” Foster said.

Foster said the Ambassador guards are required to record incidents in a log book at the end of each shift, according to their contract.

“We need access to these reports to observe any patterns of violence, and to compare them with customer complaints against guards,” he said.

Members are also asking for sensitivity training for the guards.

“(The guards) need to know how to talk to you,” Godwin said.

On Saturday, Godwin and Georgia King carried stacks of bright yellow fliers to raise awareness about the bus riders union.

Godwin, 69, and King, 74, are longtime bus riders. Godwin has been in the union for about a month and King is a founding member of the group, which formed in 2012.

King is concerned about dirty seats on buses, overcrowding and drivers moving their buses before people sit.

Burton said MATA received an e-mail from the bus riders union last week and the staff will meet about it.

“MATA is fully committed to our customers’ safety and overall comfort on buses and at MATA facilities,” she said. “We are willing to work with the resources we have to make things better.”

Some riders have also raised concerns about a lack of crosswalks to access buses quickly at the Downtown terminal.

“One of the biggest conflicts between guards and riders at the moment is due to the enforcement of an unwritten rule that riders must only walk at the crosswalk in the terminal,” Foster said. “Many riders are forced to break this rule when transferring between buses.”

He said transfers are often disorganized due to late buses and some drivers will stop short to allow riders to jump off and rush to an outbound bus.

“If this policy is to remain, it is only right that there be signs posted in the driveway,” he said. “The two crosswalks on either side of the terminal should be painted yellow as well to help communicate to riders where it is safe to walk.”

The next bus riders union meeting is noon to 2 p.m. on Sept. 13 at Memphis Center for Independent Living, 1633 Madison, on bus route #2.

For more information call 901-205-9737.