MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) — Bus riders pushed to the edge. Members of the Memphis Bus Riders Union say they're tired of MATA ignoring their concerns.
Friday morning, the group filed a federal civil rights complaint against MATA. Bus riders’ complaints include broken wheelchair ramps, late buses, and discrimination. They hope this lawsuit will bring change.
"Our complaints have fallen on deaf ears and that's the reason why we decided to file this title 6 complaint on the behalf of Memphis Bus Riders Union," said MBRU member Minister Kennith Van Buren.
The Memphis Bus Riders Union filed a 25 page complaint not only against MATA but against the City of Memphis
"When we get that information let's collectively look at it without making any type of assumptions. You never want to be in a situation where you want to look at one particular side,” said Memphis City Councilman Edmund Ford, Jr.
Bus riders claim MATA has been running a substandard "ghetto bus service" for years.
"Many of the disabled ramps on the buses are not working,” said Van Buren.
"We have gone through with our maintenance department and tested every ramp and even if a ramp cannot be deployed electronically it can be deployed manually,” said MATA spokeswoman Alison Burton.
Then there's the allegation that "nice new" buses aren’t sent to "black neighborhoods."
"They are not safe at all period. They have safety violations. Maybe the front door is working and maybe the back door is not working and then you have many of the buses not running in black populated areas," Van Buren told abc24 news.
MATA says all the new buses are distributed equally.
"All those new buses can’t run all in one area, you have to ensure that they go to every area of the city,” said Burton.
MATA hasn't seen the formal complaint yet but is willing to meet with the group to address their concerns. Some of the group's demands are lower fares, more hybrid buses, courteous drivers, and create all night bus routes especially in African American neighborhoods.
The Memphis Bus Riders Union will meet again on March 31st at the Whitehaven Community Center at 11:30am.