MATA: Memphis Area Transit Authority

MATA buses
••• MATA buses. Photo credit: MATA Facebook Page.

If you have spent any time on the streets of Memphis, you have almost certainly seen a MATA bus. These typically green and white vehicles carry nearly 11 million passengers per year. In addition to buses, The Memphis Area Transit Authority operates vehicles such as paratransit vans and trolley cars. If you are new to Memphis or have never taken a city bus, you may be wondering if public transportation is the way to go.

It certainly has its advantages.

  • Financially speaking, taking the bus is a pretty good deal. A one way fare is $1.75* for adults, $1.35 for students, and $0.85 for senior citizens. Even if you took two bus rides per day, seven days per week, you would only spend around $100 per month on transportation costs. You certainly could not pay for a car note, auto insurance, and gas on that amount of money.
  • Generally speaking, mass transit is also better for the environment. How much better depends on the number of people riding the bus, the length of the trip, and factors such as bus emissions versus car emissions.

And while saving money or helping the environment are good incentives to take a bus, there are other considerations to keep in mind.

  • MATA busses only run during certain hours of the day. Depending upon the route, a typical bus will run from about 5:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. or midnight, Monday-Friday. On the weekends, the hours are even shorter.
  • Then there is the question of convenience. MATA busses run on thirty-five routes throughout Shelby County. Unless you live near a major street, you may have to walk quite a distance to get to the nearest bus stop. Likewise, your destination may not be as close to your drop-off point as you would like.

    In mid-2014, MATA removed the vintage rail trolley system (The Main Street, Riverfront, and Madison Avenue lines) from service for an overhaul and repairs. The fleet of 17 vintage trolleys may take several years for safety updates 

    In the summer of 2015, MATA introduced several trolley buses to take over the Main Street line. These buses have the appearance of vintage-style trolley but operate as a normal bus rather than on the rail system. The trolley buses are a variety of colors: some are two-tone red and green, others are bright yellow, red, mint green, and there's even a pink one.

    The Riverfront and Madison Avenue trolley routes are still unavailable. 

    The newest MATA route takes passengers through the Shelby Farms. 

    If you decide to give MATA a try or want more information, you can find a full listing of their routes, schedules, and fares at the MATA website. Also be sure to check out the Rider Guide.


    *Fares are subject to change. Check with MATA for current prices.