Shelby County Mayor continues push for more public transportation funding

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — During Wednesday morning’s Shelby County Commission meeting, Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris centered a presentation for more funding for public transportation around the environment.

Mayor Harris told commissioners that now is the time to invest in transit.

Harris told FOX13 to have an expanded transit system would help improve air quality within the county and the overall health of those who live in and around the county.

“Public transit helps us have an alternative to passenger vehicles, helps us to improve our air quality, helps us reduce the number of kids that show up to the emergency room suffering from asthma,” Harris said.

Heather Mcteertoney with Mom’s Clean Air Force, was part of today's presentation.

Mcteertooney focused on improving the health of children in Shelby County.

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“Helps to reduce missed days from school, missed days from work, triggers like asthma attacks and lung impacts,” Mcteertoney said.

During the question portion of the meeting, Shelby County Commissioner Edmond Ford Jr. turned the attention from the environment to MATA itself.

“We have to look at real systemic issues that are going on with our transit system before we put one dime in," Ford said.

Harris told FOX13 he understands Ford’s concerns with MATA but, that shouldn’t stop the commission from investing in public transportation.

“I'm not looking for excuses," Harris said. "There are plenty of reasons not to do something. I didn't run for office to make excuses. I ran for office to take action."

Harris has more presentations planned for the future centered around the economy of transit and the equity of transit.

“I'm going to keep talking about it until we've exhausted every option, until we've kicked every tire, moved every hood, find a way to move people across the city,” Harris said.