Bus riders say if MATA moves forward with cutting and changing bus routes, it could cost them their jobs.
"Those buses are stealing a long period of time, make me that I be an hour late for work," says bus rider Wondranita Malone, "It's already that I'm 15 minutes late sometimes, but then I'm going to be an hour. It's not going to ... how can I explain that?"
MATA is facing a nearly $5 million budget shortfall after the Memphis City Council cut 17-percent of their funding for MATA. To counter this lack of funding, MATA is proposing cutting six routes, some of those being combined with 17 other changing routes.
MATA proposed route changes: http://content.foxtvmedia.com/whbq/ProposedServiceChanges2013-webbooklet.pdf
During MATA's second public hearing about the proposed cuts Thursday evening, bus riders noted routes like the one to President's Island are on the chopping block but it's an area many bus riders work. They add that the altered routes could lengthen the commute time and make them late for work.
Bus riders are not entirely blaming MATA for the tough cuts; they say Memphis City Council cuts the transit system's budget every year.
"The people here are MATA are smokescreen. They're being hung out to dry. Mayor Wharton is hiding behind the skirts of the people who work here because he cut their budget and now they have to find a way to make this work with the scraps," says Memphis Bus Riders Union Organizer Brad Watkins.
Memphis Bus Riders Union made their own proposal to the city: Cut tax incentives for corporations like Electrolux and International Paper.
Collins says the City of Memphis relieves 90-percent of PILOT participants' taxable income; the county relieves 75-percent.
The councilman says even if Memphis lowered their percentage of tax relief by 15-percent to match the county's amount it would mean millions of dollars back in the city's treasury that could help public service programs like MATA.
"Maybe we stay with the commitments we have now, but going forward I think it should be an adjustment made on the PILOTs and the length of them and the amount of percentages the City of Memphis relieves," says Collins.
Collins says if not this proposal, a change is needed to help fund MATA and other public service programs. He says if the city keeps doing the same things to bandage its budget, they cannot expect different results.
To submit your own proposals to MATA, you can fax them at (901) 722-7123 or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
MATA proposing cuts to bus, trolley routes
MATA plans to eliminate 6 routes, change 17