Tag Archives: MAX

Looks like we’re getting new buses

xcelsior_21Smoke bellowed from a MAX Dart shuttle bus during lunchtime in downtown Birmingham today, leading some to turn to Twitter (like this person) to find out what was happening. The fire is leading some to make snarky comments and varying opinions offered about the future of the region’s transit authority, MAX, otherwise known as the BJCTA.

It’s not the first time it’s happened here in town (like this instance in 2010) and there are no reports of injuries at this time. It’s also not as though it doesn’t happen elsewhere with newer buses – like this incident in Seattle last month (video).

The Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham (RPCGB) had just shared on January 25 news the BJCTA had just signed a five-year contract with New Flyer of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, (with production facilities in the U.S.) for as many as 50 of their Xcelsior buses. The contract was probably finalized before January as it was included in the bus manufacturer’s press release listing firm commitments for orders this year at the beginning of the month.

The purchase was funded by a $2.5 million grant BJCTA received from the Federal Clean Fuels Grant Program in mid-September 2012. It was the second time the transit authority had received been awarded funds from the program, the first time being in 2009 when they agreed to purchase buses from Anniston based NABI. They received the first of those buses in 2010 according to this account from The Birmingham News. BJCTA has been eligible for the grants because of the region’s past non-attainment status as it relates to ozone.

The 40-foot buses they’ve agreed to purchase have been seen occasionally driving throughout the metro area in recent months and are also in use in larger service areas like New York City (as pictured above).

The authority has been fairly quiet publicly in recent months, including a reduction of activity on its own 4+ year old website. Its new director, Ann Dawson-August, has only been on the job for one month, replacing former director, Peter Behrman. He left the authority nearly a year ago this month (joining a long list of predecessors).

While we haven’t heard directly from Dawson-August since her introductory press conference late last year, a review of a piece she wrote for Mass Transit Magazine in December 2008 about relations between an agency executive and the board and an interview conducted with her a little more than a year earlier should give you a better understanding of her style – and why we may not hear from her nearly as often as her predecessors.

Photo: courtesy of New Flyer.

On the agenda: Vulcan, jazz and transit

New Birmingham, Alabama logoThis morning’s Birmingham City Council agenda is the longest in some time, consisting of some 44 pages.

Item 21 asks the Council to approve an amendment to their contract with the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority (better known to most of us as MAX). It would allow the council to provide up to an additional $3 million to the cash-strapped agency, increasing their allocation to more than $8 million. The routes and hours are to be established by the City Council Transportation Committee.

Item 28 gives us a first glance at the Jazz in the Park Concerts sponsored by Magic City Smooth Jazz. The free concerts would be held every Sunday from July 4-25, 2010 at several locations throughout the city. The item includes the city agreeing to provide up to $10,000 towards the cost of the series.

Item 33 allows The Big Guy atop Red Mountain to have some necessary repair work done to his pedestal. Vulcan Painters of Bessemer submitted the low (and only) bid of $27,672 and acceptance of the item allows repair work to the pedestal to proceed.

The meetings are streamed live via the city’s website and archived.

Don’t stop the bus

A $4 million shortfall in the Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority (a.k.a. the folks responsible for our MAX bus system) has the potential to do just by causing them to cut Saturday service and downtown DART service among other things. Check out the Birmingham News’ story so you have an idea of what’s going on before you head out to this afternoon’s city council transit committee meeting  (at 4 p.m.) called by Councilwoman Carol Duncan to figure out next steps.