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Folks, we need real funding for transit

12.17.2008 by André Natta · → 1 Comment

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If the $1.7 million in question for BJCTA paratransit service is taken from that which is already in the city’s budget for BJCTA this fiscal year and is not in addition to the amount set aside, our local transit authority would be forced to make reductions to its existing bus service (viewed as underfinanced and underperforming by many).

It’s disappointing to see the city continue to struggle to find ways to maintain a functioning bus service – particularly in light of the business fee increase supported by the business community and passed last December, which according to a several reports, including this one from us last year on November 19, included transit funding.

There still seems to be more name calling than action when it involves mass transit. The issue is of particular importance to me again as I sit in a hospital waiting room in New York City knowing that reliable mass transit continues to make it easy for me to get around my home town without worry.

Recently moving from downtown Birmingham also marks the first time that I did not stick to my personal rule of living within a block of a bus or train station stop. I just knew that my car or my bike was becoming more reliable.

My level of faith in the future of the BJCTA is not completely lost – their new website and the interim executive director provide a glimmer of hope that the system can be fixed, or at least wants to be.

My faith of future funding sources – from both the City of Birmingham and those other cities in the community that need to be providing substantial funding for it – is.

If we couldn’t get it done or at least really get it going when gas was approaching $4/gallon, I’m nervous about whether or not more than a temporary patch can be applied to our transit issue.

While folks already complain about the evening commute along Highway 280, I’m not quite sure folks out there are ready for the types of delays that folks from those cities our civic leaders always compare us to, like Denver, Austin and Atlanta already deal with. Waiting to do something could very well lead us to that point and then it will be too late.

It is especially disturbing considering that it is paratransit that is now involved in this shell game of funding sources.

Making that evening commute on the bus won’t look so bad in the near future – and shouldn’t (if we still have a working system to make that commute on). 

André Natta is the managing editor of The Terminal.

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Filed under: regional · transit

Rylah Photography
Rylah Photography

It has always amazed me how little people seem to care about the basic infrastructure of Birmingham. In order for a healthy economy, transportation is one of the most important elements in my opinion.