Bus Riders, Bus Drivers Unify in Memphis
Micaela Watts reports that several streams of big transit news are coming together in Memphis. First came the news of a "partnership between the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 713 (the local bus drivers' union) and the Memphis Bus Riders Union (MBRU)," with both sides "eager that the union merger will erase the long-standing perception of blame-placing that pits the bus drivers against the bus riders."
And as fortune would have it, less than a week after the partnership was announced, came a funding announcement that did not go over well with the new allies: "Congressman Steve Cohen announced that $2.6 million in federal funds, secured through the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), would be allocated to fund three electric trolleys for downtown Memphis."
Cynthia Bailey, outreach coordinator for MBRU is quoted directly in the article explaining the MBRU's position about the funding: "When you put money [only] downtown where the trolleys are, you're forgetting about your citizens….You're forgetting about the people who need transportation to get to jobs and destinations." Local 713 is described as echoing those concerns.
The remainder of the article goes into more detail about the bad blood between the unions and the leadership of the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA), with the additional layer of political intrigue added by the recent election of Mayor-elect Jim Strickland.