- Associated Press - Saturday, April 19, 2014

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - The Memphis Area Transit Authority is considering a proposal to end shuttle rides to area sporting events.

The agency is taking written comments through April 25 on the proposal to stop offering shuttles to Grizzlies’ games, University of Memphis men’s basketball games, the Southern Heritage Classic and the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.

MATA officials told The Commercial Appeal (https://bit.ly/1itIIFs) that they have to make up for about $2.5 million in budget cuts, and the shuttles lose about $100,000 annually.

Mary Jane and James Landry, both 66, are Memphis Grizzlies season ticket holders who have used shuttles to get to games for four or five years.

“If I had known this I would have never renewed my tickets,” said Mary Jane Landry.

The Landrys say they would have to arrive hours before a game to access parking for the disabled that they need and parking elsewhere would require them to walk further than they’re able.

Tom Fox, interim general manager at MATA, said the agency has lost funding from state, federal and local government over the last 18 months and is making necessary cuts.

“Finances are such that we have to look at what we do and chose not to do” Fox said. “This is not the best use of limited funds.”

Fred Jones, who founded the Southern Heritage Classic, says the proposal comes at a bad time for the annual football matchup that pits Tennessee State University against Jackson State University.

“We’re anticipating our biggest crowd in years,” Jones said. “No time is the optimal time, but we will have more concern about it this year than maybe the other years.”

The game drew 42,400 fans to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium last year and previous games have had attendance at 55,000.

Jones said shuttles ease traffic and parking issues.

“The big impact for us is there will be more demand for parking and more cars that we have to contend with for the game and tailgating,” he said.

The MATA board will consider public comments at its next meeting on April 28.


Information from: The Commercial Appeal, https://www.commercialappeal.com

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