MATA's downtown transit center bears the name of the late Will Hudson Jr. (Courtesy photo)

William Hudson Jr., who guided the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) for 20 years, has passed.

Hudson joined MATA in 1964, along with several other African-American city bus drivers who broke the color barrier. He quickly rose through the ranks and took the helm of MATA in 1993, manning that position until his retirement in 2013.

“The employees of Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) today are mourning the recent passing of former MATA President and General Manager William Hudson Jr. with profound sadness and offer the deepest condolences to the Hudson family,” said Nicole Lacey, chief communications officer for MATA.

Hudson is credited with significant accomplishments during his 20-year tenure, including the completion of Central Station, the Riverfront and Madison Trolley rail lines, and the Airways, American Way and North End Transit Centers (The latter was renamed in Hudson’s honor after he retired.)

Hudson’s leadership in public transportation was not only felt at MATA, but throughout the state of Tennessee. He once served as president of the Tennessee Public Transportation Association (TPTA). In 2009, Hudson was inducted into the TPTA Hall of Fame.  Hudson also was an active member of the American Public Transportation Association.

In addition to his contributions to the public transportation industry, Hudson served on the boards of numerous organizations, including the Memphis Food Bank, the Riverfront Development Corporation, and the Mid-South Minority Business Council (MMBC). He was also honored as one of the Downtowners of the Decade and Executive of the Year by the Africa in April Cultural Awareness Festival. In addition, he was a 1999 Leadership Memphis graduate.

Said Lacey, “Hudson leaves an indelible mark in public transportation that will be remembered for decades to come.”

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