Today is National Dump the Pump Day, an effort undertaken by the American Public Transportation Association since 2006 (when the national average price for gas reached $3) to encourage the use of public transportation instead of driving. A report conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute and cited locally on the CommuteSmart website points out the average Birmingham commuter wastes 35 hours a year in traffic and consumes an additional 18 gallons of fuel.
Locally, the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority (BJCTA) is participating by making all rides on MAX buses in the system free. The agency has participated every year.
It’s not the only changes currently taking place at metro Birmingham’s regional transit agency. A new website greets visitors looking for information digitally as well as a more active fan page on Facebook. They also recently shared news of the passage and subsequent signing of House Bill 627, a transportation bill that passed on the last day of the legislative session that provided for the first major changes to the law governing the agency in more than 40 years. The law consolidates six laws governing the agency’s existence into one in addition making several changes to fiscal policies. The BJCTA has also been invited back to Montgomery (in addition to Mayor Bell) by Governor Bentley to discuss further ways to support the system.
One effort currently underway in the private sector by VIPAAR co-founder Mark Dillavou (and one of the focuses of this month’s Digital City column in B-Metro Magazine) is the BJCTA Stop Cataloguer. It’s an attempt to map all of the transit system’s bus stops in order help facilitate the system’s addition to Google Maps’s transit planning service. According to the site, several routes have been completed and added to a smartphone app and website, but there is still more to be done.