By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
The Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority’s (BJCTA) plans to increase fares and cut some routes beginning in September and some residents aren’t pleased.
Frank Martin, Interim Director of the BJCTA, told councilors earlier this week the transit agency will raise fares from $1.25 to $2 incrementally between now and 2021 with fares increasing to $1.50 starting next month.
“When you’re making $7 an hour and you go to the grocery store and your bill gets higher and higher and not to mention the sewer, water, light, rent and all of those bills, everybody is trying to do the best that they can,” resident Anna Brown told the Birmingham City Council on Tuesday. “We’re on the low end of the totem pole when it comes to what we pay for our bus fare, but we’re also on the low end of the totem pole in service. Now you’re asking us to pay more money for less service.”
The BJCTA could also eliminate 15 fixed route drivers along with four administrative staff members as part of cost savings in its 2020 fiscal budget, which begins Oct. 1, said Martin. The transit authority also wants to consolidate six current bus routes, modify 11 other routes and run from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. instead of to 10 p.m.
“You want to . . . end it at 7 in the evening on some routes . . . some people they’re still trying to get home from work,” Brown said. “Every time you make a change on your fixed route service, it affects your paratransit people.”
Councilor John Hilliard applauded Brown for speaking out and put the onus on transit board members.
“I rode the bus all the way from the time I was in kindergarten up to high school… we need more people who have compassion,” Hillard said. “I would hope that my colleagues stay vigilant because those (transit boards) terms will come up again and I might be fighting by myself, but I will fight to remove people that don’t put people first, poor people, people who really have a need for these type of services.”
Councilor Steven Hoyt said riders need more advocates.
“The issue of service and what we paid for versus what we received is something that has been before the public for three or four years,” he said, “…transit exists to provide a service. It doesn’t make a profit. I don’t know how you’re going to be a progressive city when you’re cutting and asking for more.”
BCS Classic Kickoff
In other city news, Birmingham City Schools (BCS) will kick off football season this Saturday at Legion Field.
The Carver Rams will face the A.H. Parker Thundering Herd at 4 p.m. while the Ramsay Rams will face the Minor Tigers at 7 p.m.
“This will be the first football game played on new turf at Legion Field,” said Faye Oates, Commissioner of Sports and Entertainment, City of Birmingham Mayor’s Office. “On top of that BCS has done a great job at elevating their schools programs. In terms of these teams and the D1 prospects that are coming from these teams particularly as well as from the entire school system, it’s a great way to show that Birmingham has some great talent.”
Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 the day of at Legion Field. Tickets can be purchased at the two host schools Carver and Ramsay.