MTRA Gives New Outlet for Riders to be Heard

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By Crandall Sims

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) -- "This is the day where we in the Midlands Transit Riders Association are going to really be a voice to those folks out there," says Walter Durst, Bus Rider and MTRA member

Wednesday bus riders, city council members and public transit supporters gathered to announced the Midlands Transit Riders Association.

"I hope we will make your lives better, but I know you are going to make our work easier," says Lill Mood, CMRTA board member

Crandall Sims reporting, "The main goal of the Midlands Transit Riders Association, or the MTRA For short, is to give those, like the ones you see behind me, the bus riders those who use the service everyday a voice in this process going forward."

Starting in May the Penny Sales Tax, approved by voters last November, will kick in for the county's bus system also known as the CMRTA.

"The penny is probably the most important thing to happen in public transportation in this city's history," says Bob Schneider, Executive Director of the CMRTA.

Schneider says the money from the Penny Sales Tax will be available starting in August.

The tax is expected to bring about $300 million to the bus system over a 20 year period and officials want to hear from riders on what changes and improvements need to be made.

"We want to make sure that we have a voice those people that matter the most and that's our riders and our supporters of the transit system," says Brian Newman, CMRTA board member and Columbia City Councilman.

Newman says already committments have been made to the bus system.

"To stabilize funding for our system and make sure that we engage everyone in the community," says Newman.

Riders are speaking out in hopes of a better future for public transportation in the Midlands.

"People out here will be able to get around town, get to their jobs, get to their doctors appointments, get to, whatever they want to do in life where they can be an independent person," says Durst.

Membership in the MTRA is free and open to bus riders and public transit advocates.

For more information call 803-808-3384 or email MidlandsTransit@gmail.com

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