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Meet Andre Gibson!

Andre Gibson
Board Vice President
Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA)
Member-at-Large, APTA Executive Committee
Member, Transit Board Members Committee; Member Services Committee; APTF; Legislative Committee; Transit Board Members Legislative Subcommittee

Please describe your agency’s scope.

MATA is a mid-size public transit agency, serving 25,000+ riders a day. We’re primarily a bus-only system, but we do operate heritage trolleys serving downtown Memphis and the Mississippi Riverfront. MATA had to stop trolley service following a safety audit, and replaced the service with trolley-replica buses. We are currently in the process of rebooting the trolley lines.

MATA has 515 associates and operates 33 fixed routes with a fleet of 150+ buses. We provide some service to neighboring communities including West Memphis, AR, a community located right across the Mississippi River.

What attracted you to the industry?

I’ve served on the MATA board since 2012; before that I was a volunteer for various sustainability and environmental justice campaigns that promoted public transportation. I chaired a public beautification commission that advocated for citizens to drive less, walk more and use bike networks and public transit. I have worked with organizations like Earthjustice and its “50 States for Clean Air” program, advocating for transit as part of an emphasis on maintaining and improving the environment. I have also worked with the Hip Hop Caucus, an important national group that gives a political voice to young people, including a strong focus on environmental justice.

My career is as a project manager for economic development for the Greater Memphis Chamber—where I work on recruiting and growing businesses in Memphis, and supplier diversity initiatives related to M/W/DBEs. Part of my role is to bridge conversations about economic development and transit for the betterment of community planning.

With these experiences, I wanted to focus on what I had come to learn was the core of the problem: poverty and access to opportunity. This led me to seek an appointment to the MATA board.

Please describe your involvement with APTA.

I joined APTA in March 2012, a month after I joined the board of MATA. My ­mentor, former APTA Chair M.P. Carter, encouraged me to jump in and get involved immediately. I participated in the Transit Board Members Seminar that June and volunteered to be a TBM regional representative.

A rewarding part of working with APTA is the opportunity for peer-to-peer ­sharing. Local issues can seem overwhelming, and you may think you’re the only one dealing with a specific funding issue or safety program. Through involvement in APTA, members can realize that other folks are confronting the same issues, achieving success and learning valuable lessons. You can meet someone well ahead of you in the process, or you can help another reach where you are.

APTA provides access to resources, manuals and trainings. For members who may not deal with transit operations day to day, the educational opportunities at conferences are phenomenal.

What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource?

The legislative resources APTA provides, along with educational programs and opportunities for direct advocacy in DC, allow members like me to amplify our voices on behalf of public transportation and our systems. Having APTA help ­facilitate our advocacy via the annual Legislative Conference helps us get out and tell our stories on Capitol Hill. In Memphis, our member of the House serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, so having the tools for productive discussion on industry issues is key.

What do you like most about your industry involvement and board service?

I joined the APTA Executive Committee this year and I am the youngest person in the room, with a slightly different set of experiences and expectations than the other members. I am interested in the future of mobility, bringing different communities to the table—including groups that may not have had a voice in the past—and making sure processes offer equity and inclusion.

What is unique about your agency? What would readers be surprised to learn about it?

Memphis is one of the largest U.S. cities in total land area, like Jacksonville, FL, and Houston. We are also challenged by issues brought forth by land use decisions and a lack of density in the region. We have to make the most of the dollars we have while serving ridership that is spread over a large area.
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