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McClendon hopes to bring mass transit back to city


West Memphis has lacked bus route since MATA deal ended At one time, the City of West Memphis enjoyed an agreement with the Memphis Area Transit Authority to give residents free (to them) bus rides to key locations across the city. Now, more than two years since the deal with MATA ran out of gas, the city is entering the begin-

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West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon MASS TRANSIT (cont.)

ning stages of returning a transit system to their city.

The partnership between West Memphis and MATA ended once the cost of covering for the two routes (later pared down two one with some of the cost offset by the West Memphis School District) became too much for the city to pay and the ridership within the city did not make it cost effective for MATA to maintain the route on a paying basis.

Now Mayor Marco McClendon is exploring options for the city to partner with a different transit company to help manage what he said would become the new West Memphis Transit Authority.

McClendon told a Memphis news station that plans for a new transit system have been in the works even before the contract with MATA ended two years ago.

“I can’t continue to let the senior citizens walk back and forth to the hospital, doctor appointments. mothers and fathers walking to work. Walking to the grocery stores. We are a better city than that,” McClendon said.

McClendon said the State of Arkansas would provide more than $400,000 a year to fund the MATA partnership as part of a statewide traffic improvement and mitigation effort. The mayor said the city is working to get the state to reestablish the funding that once went to MATA to support the city’s new transit system.

“We are starting out looking at four,” McClendon said. “Now I’ll be honest with you. Our buses will not be as big as MATA buses. We don’t need (buses) that big.”

McClendon said the city is looking at 24-passenger shuttle buses, better suited for lighter passenger loads and more frequently repeating routes. He also said the timing for the new transit system just got more important as of last Friday.

“We are moving forward,” McClendon said “(As a) matter of fact, the only cab company in West Memphis ceased operations yesterday.”

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