Transit benefits the region's overall travel conditions by helping to reduce single-occupant vehicle (SOV) travel. However, this is not the main objective in the push to develop a regional transit system. The main objective is to provide additional travel options and improve connectivity and efficiency.
The regional transit system is anchored by the Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority's (BJCTA) MAX bus service. BJCTA provides paratransit services in a 3/4 mile area radius of the fixed routes.
Public transportation plays a major role in providing travel alternatives, improving personal mobility, alleviating congestion, and improving air quality. The Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) identifies goal and policies to accomplish the regional vision for public transportation. The RPCGB reviews, analyzes and incorporates transit projects such as capital expenditures, operations and maintenance assistance funding into its planning process.
The region's current RTP includes several different types of transit projects and covers a range of modes to create a seamless transit system. When completed, commuters will be able to connect easily to numerous destinations. The RPCGB has been involved in a variety of transit planning projects, including:
- The Birmingham Regional Alternatives Analysis — Regional Transit Improvement Plan (5MB)
- The In-town Transit Partnership
- I-65/U.S. 31 Mobility Matters
- US 280 Transit Study
- U.S. 11 Southwest Transit Study
- Birmingham to Atlanta High-Speed Rail Study Final Report PDF (Mar 2012)
These projects involve regional collaboration with local governments, stakeholders, media, and the public at large.
Transit Development Plan
In addition to the Regional Transportation Plan and the many corridor- level transit alternatives analyses, the Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority develops a Transit Development Plan (TDP). The TDP is a five-year action plan for public transportation specific to the MAX bus system and VIP paratransit services. The TDP is designed to improve planning and delivery of BJCTA services through analysis of existing transit conditions and by garnering feedback from the community.
The current TDP was adopted by the BJCTA Board of Directors in 2008 and calls for improving frequency of service and expanding the service area. It also calls for decentralization of the transit system, moving it from a hub and spoke system to a nodal system. Local funding challenges have greatly affected how much of the TDP could be implemented. The TDP is currently being revised to reflect changes in funding availability and modifications to previous recommendations.
Human Services Coordinated Transportation Plan
The development of a local coordinated human services transportation plan is required under the Safe Accountable Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act - A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). The plan identifies needs for transportation disadvantaged individuals and strategies to meet those needs. Many people mistakenly assume that transportation disadvan taged individuals comprise only those people with disabilities or people using wheelchairs. In fact, transportation disadvantaged includes those who are unable to transport themselves or to purchase transportation due to their age, income, health, or physical limitations.
The Plan also guides decision-making regarding the allocation of Federal Transit Administration (FTA) program funding. The FTA currently offers three grant opportunities for projects that increase mobility options and implement Plan goals.
- Section 5310 provides funding for capital equipment to assist in to transporting elderly and disabled individuals.
- Section 5316, Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC), helps fund projects that improve access to transportation services to employment and employment-related activities for welfare recipients and eligible low-income individuals, and to transport residents of urbanized areas and non-urbanized areas to suburban employment opportunities.
- Section 5317, New Freedom, seeks to expand mobility options available to persons with disabilities.