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:
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.