UPDATE: 9/23/2014, 4:15 p.m. – The original headline for this piece, and information contained within, was based information provided during and after the presentation suggesting it would take place on September 23. While preparing to re-share the piece this afternoon, we learned that it will instead be held on a new, yet to be confirmed date in the near future. It will be shared here once it is finalized.
The proposed route, which would be known as Route 201, would run four times a day initially (two trips inbound at 5:45 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. and two trips outbound at 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.). The buses would operate between the Walmart location along Highway 280 near Lake Purdy and State Highway 119 and the BJCTA’s Central Station (soon to be replaced by the intermodal facility now under construction), stopping at The Summit, St. Vincent’s Hospital UAB, the central business district, and the Social Security Building (located at the corner of 14th Street North and Abraham Woods, Jr. Blvd). It was stressed that the route is only proposed at this point and is subject to changes.
It is one of three routes currently under consideration for pilot commuter service in the area. One of the other proposed routes would operate during peak morning and afternoon travel periods between downtown Bessemer and the Galleria in Hoover. A third route would serve as the long-talked about shuttle service between downtown Birmingham and Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.
The seven new buses being used for the pilot effort were purchased using grant monies obtained with local matching funds provided by the city of Hoover originally intended to provide assistance for a city circulator. It was later changed to allow for the purchase. (It is one of several orders for new buses received in recent years by the BJCTA.) A restriction on the how the grant could be used prevents them from being added to the existing fixed routes. Ikwut-Ukwa placed the estimated cost to operate the service at $101,400 and that it could be accommodated in the current operations budget. He told the committee the authority was anticipating an estimated early usage of 25-35 riders; each bus can hold 26 people and are ADA accessible. He also informed them the authority’s board was looking at the system’s fare structure and that the cost for riding on this particular route had not been determined as of yet.
There will be a public notification meeting held
on Tuesday, September 23, in the Arrington Auditorium on the fourth floor of the Birmingham Public Library’s central branch from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. in the near future. It’s hoped those in attendance will help them to refine and develop the pilot route and schedule.