Birmingham public transport sees delays, blames COVID despite receiving millions of dollars in federal funding
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Birmingham MAX Transit buses have experienced delays and cancellations, which authorities blame on worker shortages due to COVID-19 and the flu despite receiving millions of dollars in federal funding to address those issues.
The Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority (BJCTA), which operates Birmingham MAX, received $780,115 in federal funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in 2021 to restore public transit routes that have been removed or reduced during COVID-19.
It also received an additional $13.5 million in federal funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
1819 News requested a more recent budget from the BJCTA because the latest financial information on the agency’s website is dated 2018. However, we have not received any response.
The BJCTA has been operational since 1972, when the Alabama Legislature passed legislation allowing for the creation of transit authorities.
The BJCTA serves not only Birmingham but also Bessemer, Homewood, Mountain Brook, Midfield, Center Point, Hoover, Vestavia Hills and Fairfield. BJCTA buses travel almost 3 million miles per year.
Birmingham residents who rely on public transport to get to work said WBRC Wednesday that bus delays make it difficult to get their jobs on time.
One resident said delays and cancellations happen at least two or three times a month.
The BJCTA said about 4% of trips are missed per day, which equates to 70 out of more than 2,000 total trips.
He also insisted he did not have enough CDL operators and was tackling that shortage with an “aggressive hiring campaign”. The BJCTA said it would supplement Birmingham MAX buses with on-demand services from December.
However, the BJCTA said there was “no silver bullet” to the shortage of workers and that it was looking for a “longer term solution”, which could include overhauling the whole system in 2023.
Birmingham MAX cancellations are displayed in real time on their website.
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