By: Siobhan Riley
Update: December 9, 2019 - 6:36 PM
WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — A new public transportation system could be coming back to West Memphis. Janette Pratt is like thousands of people in West Memphis who relied on public transportation before the city's contract ended with MATA a few years ago. “We do need transportation here in West Memphis to get around because people need to have it to go to work and back and go where they have to go,” Pratt said. A shortage of funding from the federal government left people walking to work. “I know that my husband when we didn’t have transportation he had to get on the bus going back and forth to work,” she said.
West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon told FOX13 the lack of public transportation is one of the most common complaints he hears about from his constituents. “We had an incident where I seen a young lady, a senior citizen walking to the doctor and I said we can’t have that,” McClendon said. McClendon said after talking with MATA, he realized it would be too expensive to partner with the transportation system again. That's why West Memphis contracted with First Transit to create its own bus system; the West Memphis Transit Authority. “I would also like to work with MATA, possibly to see with our new bus service that we may be able to drop off to downtown Memphis or they able to drop off in West Memphis and connecting routes,” he said.
McClendon said right now First Transit is looking into the routes, the cost of buses and the cost of drivers. People who live in the city say not having this transportation is making it tough to get to work on time. Pratt said, “We really do need it because a lot of people don’t have cars these days because of insurance being expensive and the license plate tags are very expensive.”
It could cost West Memphis residents anywhere from 90 to 95 cents a ride.The new service could be up and running in the summer of next year. FOX13 asked the mayor about his plans to avoid problems similar to MATA’s problems in Memphis - like complaints that it takes too long to get to work and buses don’t run often enough. McClendon said that’s one of the reasons they’re working to build strong relationships with their local businesses.