The city, in partnership with the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) and Innovate Memphis is kicking off the Memphis 3.0 transit vision planning process.
Working with transit consultant group, Jarrett Walker + Associates, the city will engage in conversations with the community to determine what they value in public transit and what they hope for the future of Memphis’ transit system.
After an initial assessment of the city’s transit system, JWA staff produced a comprehensive report of their findings. In short, the report shows that services are well spread out, but don’t run nearly often enough, making it “useless” for many, says Scudder Wagg of JWA.
He says the low density of the city’s dispersed population makes it harder to serve in a cost-effective way.
This is why over the next few weeks the city’s first phase of community engagement aims to determine if the public values high frequency or high coverage service.
Wagg says this means people have to decide if they want buses that come every 15 minutes only on main streets or buses that come once every hour but stop on side streets as well. He says it’s a matter of choosing to “walk or wait.”
Interim CEO of MATA Gary Rosenfeld says it’s not black and white though and that frequency and coverage may vary between different areas, depending on its needs.
“We will make sure the network is adapted to the values that are identified,” he said.
After public outreach, including electronic surveys and community meetings, in November, in order to make the range of choices clearer to the public, the planning team will draft maps of three different network concepts — a high frequency one, high coverage one, as well as the current network.
Wagg says JWA should have a draft transit plan ready in the early part of 2018.