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BJCTA Donates Two 40-Foot MAX Transit Buses to Miles College

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Last week, MAX Transit donated two 40-foot buses to Miles, the Fairfield, Alabama, Historically Black College and University (HBCU), just outside of Birmingham. Charlotte Shaw, executive director and CEO of MAX transit presented Miles College President Bobbie Knight with a certificate of the in-kind donation. (MAX Transit/Facebook Page)

By Barnett Wright | The Birmingham Times

For the first time, Miles College will have its own transit buses for students to travel on and off campus and to area destinations, courtesy of a gift from the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority’s (BJCTA’s) MAX Transit.

Last week, MAX Transit donated two 40-foot buses to Miles, the Fairfield, Alabama, historically Black college and university (HBCU), just outside of Birmingham.

“Our buses are good buses,” said Charlotte Shaw, executive director and CEO of MAX transit. “I can’t keep them in useful life for a long time. [Because of federal regulations], I can do only 700,000 miles or 15 years, whichever comes first. And, of course, most of the time I meet my miles first. … I had two really good buses, and I wanted [Miles] to have them.”

“I am grateful to [BJCTA Executive Director Shaw] because bus service does not come into Fairfield,” said Miles College President Bobbie Knight. “If you go to Miles College and don’t have a car you can’t get around.”

Shaw and Knight met for dinner shortly after Shaw’s January “State of the Transit” address, which she gave at the Boutwell Auditorium in downtown Birmingham. As the two dined on Hamburger Fonfon at Chez Fonfon on the Southside, Knight asked the transit chief what happens after buses are disposed of. Shaw said they are sometimes put up for auction and sometimes sold for a dollar.

Knight said to Shaw, “If you have any after this next round of disposal, keep Miles in mind because I’d love to have two of those buses.”

That same evening Shaw called with good news, telling Knight, “Hey, all you have to do is pay a dollar for each. It’s an in-kind donation. I will get them cleaned up and delivered.”

“And that’s what we did,” said Shaw.

The buses were provided to the Miles campus following a ceremony last week. (MAX Transit/Facebook Page)

The buses were parked on the Miles campus following a ceremony last week.

“She was true to her word,” said Knight. “[Shaw] brought all of her team with her. We don’t have any drivers, [but] she told us [the BJCTA’s] drivers do a lot of part-time driving, … and she would give us their information so we can contact them. [She also told us] we could work out a deal with her for maintenance on the buses. We would rather have her people maintain the buses because they know the buses.”

The buses are now on campus and need to be wrapped in the purple and gold of Miles, Knight said: “It’s going to cost $9,000 per bus to wrap them. I have to find a sponsor. I think we have one. We’ll put their logo on the side of the bus.”

The Miles president added that there are plenty of uses for the vehicles, including shopping trips for the students.

“Fairfield is a food desert,” she said, using the term that describes areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious food.

“There’s not a Walmart. There’s nowhere to go for toiletries and shopping,” Knight added. “We can also [use the buses for] student trips downtown to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute or the Birmingham Museum of Art, or even if we want to take them to see the baseball team play a [nearby school like the University of Montevallo]. When we go recruit to high schools, particularly around the area, when we pull up we’re branded.”

The buses are the start of a relationship that will only grow, said Shaw: “I would love to help out Miles, a HBCU … It’s about partnerships, and it’s really our responsibility to HBCUs and higher education to ensure that they have what they need.”