News from the Tennessee Valley State, Local and National news
SUNDAY, MAY 13, 2007

Jefferson County listens to weary travelers on public transit delays

BIRMINGHAM (AP) — A two-hour forum on improving Jefferson County’s transit system heard from riders weary of long waits for buses, breakdowns and bus stops in inaccessible locations.

“I meet people on the bus,” said rider Mark Slay. “They’re nice people and all they want is an even break.”

Officials at Friday’s forum said funding is required to make any improvements. The forum was conducted by Citizens United for Regional Transit, a grassroots advocacy group formed last year.

Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority chairman Guin Robinson said the forum was beneficial.

But he said a major barrier is a lack of communication between branches of government, each of which has a role to play in transit reform.

Former state Rep. George Purdue introduced several unsuccessful bills to fund mass transit before he left the Legislature last year.

“Transit has to happen for the region and we must pay to have a quality system. The facts are unequivocally not in our favor,” Purdue said.

Darrell Howard, a transportation planner for the Regional Planning Commission, said the Birmingham region lags significantly behind other metro areas in term of financial support for mass transit. There is no dedicated state funding for the transit system and elected leaders have not agreed on matching dollars to obtain federal money.

Panelists included representatives from the health department, state Vocational Rehabilitation agency, The Birmingham News and the Regional Planning Commission.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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