Thursday, July 14, 2016

MATAplus purchases new buses

Differences in the new vehicles used for people with disabilities 

By Christina Clift

Christina Clift
On Wednesday July 13, 2016 members of the Specialized Transportation Advisory Committee met at the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) office to get a look behind the scenes of how the paratransit service works.  STAC members were given the opportunity to observe dispatching and reservations and we also got a chance to look at the latest vehicles to join MATA’s fleet of buses.  

The Memphis Area Transit Authority is in the process of receiving 12 new vehicles for the paratransit fleet.  MATA’s paratransit service is often referred to as MATAplus and is responsible for transporting individuals with disabilities who cannot use the fixed route system because of a disability. 

The new paratransit vehicles are designed to pick-up and drop off individuals at the closest curb to where they are going.  So, the vehicle could pick-up people in front of a non-profit like the Memphis Center for Independent Living, in an apartment complex, or a crowded parking lot at Wal-Mart. 

These brand new buses are in the style of a cut-away, which means it is low to the ground and are a different than the ones currently used by MATA.  One difference is the vehicles have extended ramps.  This will make boarding the bus easier for people who use mobility aids or who have difficulty climbing steps.  A second difference is the new buses will hold up to three wheelchair users and ten walk-on riders.  Finally, the new bus comes with comfortable seats with seat belts.  

Only time will tell how these vehicles hold up after logging thousands of miles on Memphis streets, how easy they are to maintain, and how well they are accepted by the riders and drivers to determine if this was a good purchase by MATA.