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Plans unveiled for new inner-city bus rapid transit system in Birmingham

THE BIRMINGHAM TIMES — The $44 million bus rapid transit project is expected to break ground in May.



Following in the footsteps of other large cities, Birmingham is planning a rapid transit project. Construction will begin in early summer on an inner city public-transit system connecting 25 neighborhoods from Woodlawn on the east side to Five Points on the west side. (Provided Photos)

By Erica Wright

Construction will begin in early summer on an inner city public-transit system connecting 25 neighborhoods from Woodlawn on the east side to Five Points on the west side.

The $44 million bus rapid transit project is expected to break ground in May, according to AL.com.

The new system will replace the Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority’s MAX bus services that currently operate in these areas and the buses will operate in both dedicated lanes and in mixed traffic.

Beginning Monday, Feb. 4 residents are invited to give feedback on the “Birmingham Xpress Bus Rapid Transit Project” during a series of meetings.

The meeting dates are:

  • Monday, Feb. 4, 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., BJCTA Administrative Office, 1801 Morris Ave.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 5, 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., Birmingham CrossPlex, 2337 Bessemer Rd.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 6, 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., Woodlawn High School, 5620 1st Ave N.

According to its website, the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project is designed to connect neighborhoods through a fast and efficient transit system along a corridor of approximately 10 miles.

The new system will reduce travel time between Woodlawn and the Birmingham CrossPlex with an estimated hour travel time as opposed to the current hour and 20 minutes. The new buses will also provide level boarding for all passengers, operate on 15-minute frequencies throughout the day except for off-peak periods and weekends, which will be 30 minutes and will include wheelchair self-parking areas.

The purpose is to connect communities to opportunities and enable residents to reach employment, educational opportunities, healthcare and community services, especially for residents in low-income areas. The system will also allow visitors access to Birmingham’s rich historic and cultural locations.

The project is being funded through a combination of federal transit grants, such as the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant and City of Birmingham Funds.

The BRT is a partnership between the City of Birmingham, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority (BJCTA).  Once finished, the BTR will be a modern, enhanced transit line through Birmingham’s Jones Valley along the U.S. 11 corridor.

STRADA Professional Services, LLC is handling project management services including master planning, oversight, coordination and quality of project activities to ensure that the program aligns with the city’s near-and long-term goals and objectives for public transit. It includes coordination with other agencies and programs and initiatives, regulatory compliance and optimizing resource utilization.

Not only will it connect the Woodlawn Community and West End Community but will serve major employers along the way such as Integrated Medical Systems, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and Brookwood Princeton Medical Center.

36 New Stations

For the project, the BJCTA will purchase 10 new, low-floor compressed natural gas (CNG) buses for the corridor. It is anticipated that BRT vehicles will include bicycle racks and seating and standing room for 40 to 60 passengers per bus.The project will require the construction of 36 stations along the BRT corridor and the proposed stations will be compact, open air structures incorporating architectural elements from Birmingham’s diverse built environment.

The stations will also provide a high-level of passenger comfort, convenience and safety and will be designed to reflect the character of the City’s unique communities and will include community inspired functional public art.

The BRT will also feature new equipment that will make riding for passengers more convenient as well.

A Transit Signal Priority (TSP) will be implemented and will allow BRT buses to be able to communicate with the traffic signal system along the project corridor. With the implementation of TSP, it can help reduce bus delays at traffic signals by either giving the bus a green light, or holding it green for a few seconds longer if a bus is approaching.

There will also be off-board fare collection allowing customer to pre-purchase fares at Ticket Vending Machines (TVM) at each station. This will significantly speed up boarding and will let passengers quickly board using any door, reducing the time spent at stations and increasing the overall efficiency and reliability of the system.

Finally, the newest piece of equipment will be real-time passenger information. The real-time passenger information displays will tell passengers waiting at stations how long before the next bus arrives and will also have the capability to provide other information to riders.

There is not a proposed date when the BRT will open but the City’s plan is to have it up and running before The World Games 2021.

For more information, visit www.birminghamtransitprogram.org.

This article originally appeared in The Birmingham Times.

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