Darrell Howard, the principal transportation planner for the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham, was the keynote speaker at this morning’s ONB Monthly Breakfast. His presentation on the In-Town Transit Partnership Project was timely. A tractor trailer overturned this morning shutting down I-459, the main connector to the south between all of our major traffic arteries (I-20, I-59, U.S. 280 and U.S. 31). Despite the fact that a recent report says that we here in Birmingham have the 3rd highest amount of time spent commuting per capita in the nation and the fact that we average a 6-hour a day rush hour period, many of us got up and went to work this morning, some of us unable to avoid the gridlock. Many of us also never even had the thought of hopping on a bike or riding a bus enter our mind. It took our guest speaker more than an hour to do a trip that should take less than 20 minutes. So what are we to do? Or what are we willing to do to make it better?
Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority Executive Director David Hill recently presented increases of payment amounts for those cities that participate in the services. The article printed in today’s Birmingham News talks of reactions and plans from area cities, some of which may not necessarily be good for the overall health of the authority for the short term.
(Cities balk at transit hikes, The Birmingham News, 7.27.2006)
Now, the idea of increases fees for services is something that may seem slightly insane. However, many people don’t always keep in mind the fact that we’ve gone from being the home of the world’s second largest streetcar system to a system that does not necessarily have the tools to provide all of the services that it would like to. With gas prices prepared to reach as high as $5/gallon before the end of the year unless something changes, it may be time to make sure that we can provide a world class system equivalent to the world class metro region that we already are. We’ve already touched on this issue with this recent post.
It’s been beat into my head from school and real life experiences in my previous job that as goes downtown, goes the rest of the city. This is definitely true, as the core provides the economic engine to keep it all going. Even so, we must not forget the neighborhoods in any plan that is implemented to solve any issue. They have not been forgotten in the transportation plans so far. Instead, the public may not necessarily be thinking that anything can be changed. So they’re forgetting that solutions do exist.
There are plans being worked on to improve mass transit in our region. We simply need to make sure that whenever we can that we attend the meetings or make sure that our friends try to. If we are not happy with the situation, unless we say and do something about it we will not be happy with the plans suggested for solutions. I would visiting the following sites:
Or at least contact Howard to find out more information and the next time that a public meeting is taking place. His e-mail address is [email protected]; he can also be reached by telephone at 251.8139. These solutions will not happen overnight. If we do not deal with them soon and at least stabilize what we already have, it will become more difficult to enjoy the magic that this city has to offer.