Depending on whom you might ask, the summer season is either long awaited or dreaded. With temperatures in Memphis soaring above 90 degrees on most days, it’s easy to understand why the latter sentiment is common.
For residents who rely on public transportation as their means for getting around town, user experience is important. For many bus riders, inclement weather conditions including extreme heat can make the experience unpleasant.
Last year, Livable Memphis and the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) teamed up with the intention of improving the experience for bus riders by installing seating at select bus stops throughout the city. Today, the two organizations are happy to see their vision come to fruition.
Through an innovative government and nonprofit partnership, Livable Memphis and MATA worked together to raise $20,500 to cover the cost of installing 24 new seats at stops not currently supported by conventional bus shelters.
“The investment in seating was made to increase riders’ comfort and offer temporary reprieve while waiting on bus arrival or in between rides,” said Ron Garrison, MATA’s Chief Executive Officer. “Every step forward to improve the quality of our bus service is one that we are happy to take.”
Livable Memphis worked with its national partner ioby to ‘crowdfund’ a portion of the cost of the seats. Thirty-one local individuals and families contributed to the funding campaign with donations ranging from $10 to $100.
Joram Mondie, a resident of the Hyde Park neighborhood and Communications Director for the Frayser Community Development Council is a frequent bus rider. For the past three years, he has depended on the MATA bus system as his primary mode of transportation -- utilizing it to get to work, for recreation, and general exploration.
“Bus riding has been a pretty positive experience overall. I’m able to get where I need to be in 20-30 minutes, and it’s a huge cost saver,” Mondie said. “The new seating improves the experience by giving us a place to rest and refresh in between trips and transfers, and avoid fatigue and depleting energy. Now we don’t have to just stand around and bear the heat, or other weather conditions like rain.”
Locations for bus seats are selected by MATA and determined by stop utilization, rider requests for seating, and ability for an existing bus stop to accommodate the seat structure. So far the new double seats have been installed at the intersections of Watkins and Burnham, Poplar and Avalon, Jackson and Hollywood, and Summer and Glanker.
“I catch the bus home right outside of our office in Frayser and the seats are a welcome piece of infrastructure that myself and other riders enjoy…a positive step in the right direction.” Mondie stated.