First Look: Trolley Bus coming to Main Street Memphis

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This is the first look Memphians are getting at one of the rubber wheeled trolley buses that will be running on Main Street soon temporarily replacing the regular buses which replaced the vintage steel wheeled trolleys. Albeit the general manager of the bus system says this is one of the “ugly ones” and promises others are more attractive. The Memphis Area Transit Authority has ordered eight of these vehicles. Four are scheduled to arrive in September, although MATA hopes one or more will be in service here in August. “We’re pushing hard,” for early delivery, said General Manager Ron Garrison. Each of the buses cost $147,282 and is designed to carry 28 passengers. The MATA board has approved an option to buy up to 12 additional trolley buses but the transit system is hoping to get the steel wheel trolleys back in service sometime in 2016. They were removed from the streets in June, 2014, after two of them caught fire.

MATA officials say it would take 4 to 6 months from today to get a steel wheeled trolley back in service due to a multitude of certifications that have to be obtained once the machine(s) are rehabilitated. They are hoping much of that can be done while work continues on fixing the trolleys and perhaps by the first of the year, 2016, it would take only a month or two of additional testing and certification to get one of the real trolleys back carrying passengers. But they warn, any timetable is full of detours which could mean a longer wait.

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Shelby County Historical Commission considering taking up the histories of Nathan Bedford Forrest and the Confederate battle flag

A suggestion by Dr. LaSimba Gray, Jr. that the Shelby County Historical Commission discuss the controversy over the history of Nathan Bedford Forrest and the [Confederate] Battle Flag of Northern Virginia appears to have been met with a favorable response from his fellow members of the Commission.

Near the end of its meeting Thursday, July 9, 2015, Gray made the request saying the Commission could “correct” some of the history. Shelby County Historian Jimmy Ogle, serving as chairman of the meeting in the absence of Dr. Curt Fields, said he expected it to be a “difficult” discussion but one that was worthwhile to have. He said he would take the suggestion under advisement. The Commission does not have a regular meeting in August as it substitutes its annual Shelby County History Awards Dinner for it.

It was mentioned by more than one member that they thought such a discussion would take more than the hour or so regular meetings typically run, and one member said that the topic deserved consideration before and after the meeting before any conclusions were reached.

The Mayor of Memphis, A C Wharton, Jr. has called for the removal of the remains of Forrest and his wife from a public park as well as the statue of the Confederate war general on his horse at the current grave site. On July 7, 2015, the Memphis City Council passed a resolution “authorizing the removal and reinterment of remains of all deceased persons buried in the burial ground at Health Sciences Park,” although council attorney Alan Wade said all the resolution did was authorize the city administration to explore alternatives to the location of the graves.

The City now identifies the park that once was known as Nathan Bedford Forrest Park as Health Sciences Park, although that decision by the city council last year is now the subject of a lawsuit which is before the Tennessee Court of Appeals.