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MAX Transit Plans Public Information Session on State-of-the-Art Maintenance Facility

BJCTA's "old and antiquated" facility at 3105 Rev. Abraham Woods Jr. Boulevard will be replaced by a state-of-the-art one with new technology and a workforce development center. (Ryan Michaels, The Birmingham Times)

By Ryan Michaels

The Birmingham Times

The Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority (BJCTA) will hold an upcoming public information session for a planned state-of-the-art technology facility for maintenance and training.

The meeting will be held at the Pratt City branch of the Birmingham Public Library, 509 Dugan Ave., on Sept. 14 at 5:30 p.m.

The new facility, intended to mostly replace the “old and antiquated” one at 3105 Rev. Abraham Woods Jr. Boulevard, will include new hydraulic systems for lifting buses, new technology for bus washing, as well as a new workforce development center.

“We’re trying to move toward innovation and a technology center that has to change with the changes in the industry,” said Charlotte Shaw, CEO of the BJCTA.

The cost of the new facility is estimated to be between $60 million to $75 million, erring “on the higher side,” Shaw said.

“The cost of doing business is very different today than it was 20 years ago, so [the estimate is] even greater this year than it was last year due to inflation in the cost of doing business,” she said.

The BJCTA will start looking for further funding opportunities to complete the design and construction and a final design for the facility is expected sometime next year. Once that happens a completion day can soon be set thereafter, Shaw said.

With BJCTA experiencing a shortage of bus drivers, something which is happening across the nation, the new digital training technology will be an important part of the facility’s workforce development center, Shaw said.

“It will provide opportunities for training, jobs for our community in Jefferson County at large, and it will also help our current employees who have been working with us for some time to learn new technology,” the CEO said.

Most of the BJCTA’s bus fleet runs on compressed natural gas (CNG), so a new CNG fueling station will at the facility, as well as new battery chargers for the two electric buses the transit agency runs.

Additionally, the facility will be outfitted with hydrogen fueling capabilities, Shaw said. Hydrogen is a growing, potentially zero-carbon source of fuel, which some say is better for the environment.

On top of the improvements and additions, the new facility is needed because the transit provider has simply “outgrown” the old facility.

“We actually have to move into a location for a larger operation, with more recent technology, to perform maintenance activities and operation activities,” Shaw said.

The new maintenance facility joins a growing list of big projects for the authority, including the Birmingham Xpress bus rapid transit system which started operation last year, as well as the organization’s growing reach into microtransit.

The growth, coupled with the workforce development piece of the facility, show the importance of the plans, Shaw said.

“It shows that we are growing our fleet, and we are growing in terms of our bus design, but it also shows how we plan to help continue to implement work development programs for our citizens in Birmingham, Jefferson County,” Shaw said.

“This is only positive for us, and if it’s positive for us, it’s positive for the citizens and the riders,” she added.

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