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MAX to Host Birmingham’s First-Ever State of the Transit Address

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By Keisa Sharpe-Jefferson

The Birmingham Times

 Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority (BJCTA) will host its first ever ‘State of Transit’ address at the start of the new year, Charlotte Shaw, BJCTA Chief Executive Officer announced on Tuesday.

During the Birmingham City Council meeting, Shaw invited Mayor Randall Woodfin and City Councilors for the address Tuesday, January 9 starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Birmingham Museum of Art.

“This is the first State of Transit event ever held in the City of Birmingham,” said Shaw. “We’re bridging the gap with our Transit Authority.”

Shaw, who recently signed a new three-year agreement in October with the MAX board, said the transit forum is something “very important to the city. We’re going to unveil our new services, our new micro services, our new executive services, and our new look and feel.”

Charlotte Shaw, CEO, Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority (FILE)

The transit chief told the mayor and council that her goal with the event and subsequent work at BJCTA is to “make you very proud of this transit system in Birmingham and Jefferson County.”

She also announced MAX would bring in the first autonomous vehicle for demonstration. An autonomous vehicle is one that drives using technology, without any human involvement.

Birmingham Council President Darrell O’Quinn, chairman of the Council’s Transportation Committee, said he was looking forward to the inaugural State of Transit “as an opportunity to bring the various stakeholders in the community together to talk about public transportation and focus on how BJCTA is trying to advance public transportation and move the needle on making it function better for our community.” he said.

O’Quinn said he is familiar with some of the “significant challenges” that faces transit in the state.

“Public transportation doesn’t get any support from the state of Alabama. The state contributes zero dollars to public transportation,” he said. “That’s especially challenging for anyone who relies on public transportation as their primary means to get around.”

He added, “It’s not fair to compare us to Atlanta, Nashville, or Dallas…they actually have vastly more support for public transportation by having a portion of the fuel tax go to support those types of systems.”

In Alabama, public-private partnerships will be key, literally, in moving public transportation forward, the councilor said.

O’Quinn applauded Shaw’s work at the agency.

“It’s just an example of the forward thinking that is happening at BJCTA; the type of innovation that CEO Shaw is trying to bring to that organization,” said O’Quinn. “We want to keep the momentum going. We have to be innovative and take approaches that look different from what you might see in other states because of the unique challenges we have here.”

Updated at 1:11 p.m. on 12/14/2023 to clarify State of the Transit meeting is an invite for city officials only.