From Sierra Club:

The local Sierra Club Chickasaw Group joined Councilman Edmund Ford Jr. and other organizations in a News Conference today to announce support for the 1-Cent-Per-Gallon-Gas-Tax Referendum. If approved by voters, the Referendum on the city of Memphis November ballot will send $3 million to the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) to pay for improved public transit service.

MATA will use these funds to increase frequency on eight major bus routes around the area and on the downtown trolley. The increased frequency on these major bus routes will result in a 48 percent improvement in total weekly coverage on these routes. The funding will also be used to improve bus shelters and add additional drivers for MATAplus.

William Hudson, President and General Manager of MATA (, said “Many people in Memphis depend on public transportation for their daily activities and increased funding will allow MATA to better serve the needs. Of course, it is important to note that the money raised by the gas tax will still be just a small part of the total MATA budget, so it is not a final solution.  But, it is a step in the right direction as the first dedicated source of funding for MATA.”

“We’re excited that this broad group of organizations has come together in support of the gas tax referendum.” said Dennis Lynch, the local Sierra Club Transportation Chair.  “We think MATA has a good plan for use of the funds, and the benefits to the city should far outweigh the small additional costs of the gas tax.”

Emily Trenholm, Community Development Council/Livable Memphis, said, “The funding that MATA currently receives from fares and the city budget simply isn’t enough to provide the transit system that our community needs and deserves. That’s why we need everyone’s support for a dedicated funding stream for transit.”

“If the Referendum passes, it will be a major win for the people of Memphis,” says Scott Banbury, Conservation Chair for the local Sierra Club group. “More buses mean better service, fewer cars on the road, and more mobility to get to jobs. Of course, nobody wants more taxes, but one cent per gallon means you’d have to drive 100 miles before it would cost you a nickel. If you drive 10,000 miles in a year, it’s only $5.00 for the entire year.”

“We’re excited that MATA will be focusing the funds from the gas tax on significant, needed service improvements,” says Bennett Foster of the Memphis Bus Riders Union.  “We’re going to keep working hard to try to get the gas tax referendum passed.”

Organizations joining the Sierra Club in support of the Gas-Tax Referendum, include ADAPT of Tennessee, Latino Memphis, the League of Women Voters, Livable Memphis, the Memphis Bus Rider’s Union (MBRU), the Memphis Center for Independent Living (MCIL), the Mid-South Peace & Justice Center, and the National Federation of the Blind of Tennessee.

These organizations say in concert, “Support Public Transit! And Vote FOR the 1-cent-per-gallon-gas-tax!”

From MATA:

Gas Tax Fact Sheet

On the November Ballot in Memphis, voters will be asked to decide upon a 1-cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline sales within the city. The proceeds from that tax will go to the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA).

What Will MATA Use The Tax Revenue For?

Expanded hours, frequency and comfort investments on the eight most utilized commuter and local convenience routes

The gas tax would present MATA with a unique opportunity to focus additional funds and attention to increase frequency, service and amenities on its most critical commuter and high frequency routes. Specifically, these eight key corridor routes are in the highest demand and present the greatest opportunity to:

take more personal vehicles off the road — reducing congestion and air pollution — attract more riders — increase convenience for existing riders

Specific Key Corridor Improvements would include:

– More uniform and dependable frequency (headway), meaning less time between buses during critical hours of the day especially AM/PM peaks, night, and on Saturdays and Sundays.

– A 48 percent improvement in total weekly coverage on these routes – 3,732 hours of service compared to 2,520 hours of service today, due to increased frequency and simplifying routes.

– Improvements to those Bus Shelters operated by MATA initially on the key corridor routes and ultimately on most routes.

Improvements to MATAplus On-time Performance

MATA will add three additional drivers to MATAplus to improve its ability to serve MATAplus customers as quickly as possible.

Added Dependability of Main Street Trolleys

With the Gas Tax revenues, MATA will add an additional trolley to the popular Main Street route utilized by downtown business professionals, residents and tourists.

Expected Proceeds

Based on estimates on the number of gallons of gasoline sold in the City of Memphis annually, MATA calculates a financial benefit of approximately $3 million from the tax if passed. Other estimates show a financial benefit as high as $6 million per year.

As a point of reference, the tax revenue would represent between five percent and ten percent of the total MATA annual budget.

MATA’s Gas Tax Utilization Strategy

* Fixed route bus service would be the highest priority

* MATAplus and trolley would benefit

* Funds would be designated to address the poor condition of current bus shelters

* The improvements would be spread to benefit citizens across the City

* Improvements would have appeal to “choice riders”

* Improvements would be tied into the Short Range Transit Plan


Did You Know

Public transit is a key metro attractor for the 25- to 34-year old workers cities are trying to attract

Nearly 2,000 times each month, a bike is strapped to a MATA bus for a commuter

One full bus takes 40 vehicles off the road

According to the American Public Transportation Association, public transit use saves the U.S. 4.2 billion gallons of gas and 37 million metric tons of carbon monoxide annually, and households that use public transit save more than $8,000 a year

MATA operates about 250 buses and trolleys, four passenger terminals, 300 shelters,

4,500 bus stops, 10.6 million passenger trips each year

Fixed Route service accounts for 88% of ridership; Trolley 10% and MATAplus 2%

65% of Memphis residents have used public transportation
35% of ridership in the state is transported by MATA