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MATA to offer deep fare discounts to combat smog

Rural King

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The Commercial Appeal ran an article yesterday looking at MATA's plans to reduce fares from their usual $1.50 rate to the drastically cut rate of $0.25 on days in which smog and ozone levels are extremely high. On these "ozone action days" individuals who chose to use mass transit will reep the steep discount for helping alleviate the pollution auto emmission output in Shelby county, which accounts 30 percent of the pollution that is termed "volatile organic compoungs". MATA will pay for the fare discounts with via a $1 million dollars in federal federal subsidies and another source provided by the EPA with the hopes of encouraging increased ridership year-round after new riders are introduced to the benefits of MATA services.

This sounds like a great way to encrouage more folks to look at and try out MATA service on the reduced fare days, and hopefully lure attain more ridership for the system then the current 40,000 daily average. MATA should be an attractive option for folks in various parts of the city who wish to avoid the stressful commutes that the city sometimes can pose during peak traffic hours at a very good regular rate year-round, but I think more folks simply will have to be inticed to give the system a try and get past the stereotypes that so much of the public places on mass transit systems across the nation.

So what does everyone else think about this new program? Is this a good strategy to gain new ridership? Can it succeed? Or is better marketing to destigmatize mass transit a necessary component to commit more folks to chose mass transit over driving themselves?

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It's a great idea. One of the most innovative civic ideas coming out of a major Memphis institution in a long time. So low were my expectations that skimming the headline, I first thought it was just going to be a quarter off.

2 things:

  1. Memphis mass transit has always been incredibly overpriced vs. its convenience factor. Perhaps this will show them the elasticity of demand for mass transit. Of course, if ridership doesn't go up on those days...

  2. How much advance notice will potential riders have that the quarter ride offer has kicked in? The night before at 10 p.m. probably won't work.

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