The Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority (MAX Transit) was established in 1972, after the Alabama State Legislature passed enabling transit authority legislation to create it. The nine-member board of directors represents the city of Birmingham, Jefferson County, and the other three funders with the largest population, currently the cities of Bessemer, Vestavia Hills and Hoover.
The MAX Transit board, along with 304 employees, is committed to our mission: “To provide safe, reliable and excellent transportation and other mobility services that contribute to the region’s economy, vitality and sustainability.”
Over the past year, the board, executive leadership, employees, stakeholders and partners have operated under one motto: “One Team-One Goal.” The goal is to become one of the best transit systems in the nation. The core values that undergird this goal are integrity, excellence, quality, positive attitude and teamwork.
We cannot expect to become the best transit system in the nation over night. We must change our expectations and operations if we are to improve and reach our goal. Change is not coming to MAX Transit. It is here!
The city of Birmingham recently celebrated Empowerment Week with the 50 Years Forward commemoration. Without question, this community has overcome a lot since 1963, but there is still work to be done. As chairman of MAX Transit, I pondered the question: What changes will impact public transportation in Birmingham in the next 50 years? In the past year, MAX Transit has undergone many changes, and if these recent changes are any indication of the future, we are off to an excellent start.
First, the board has completed a national search and has hired a world-class, proven transportation professional to serve as executive director, Ann Dawson-August. This is the first time in the history of MAX Transit that a female was named to this post. Mrs. August came on board January 2, and hit the ground running.
Since her arrival, she has managed to assist in the ratification and signing of a three-year labor agreement with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU). She has met and continues to meet with individuals throughout the community including elected officials, riders, business, community and church leaders to listen to their concerns and desires for transit. Mrs. August assessed the training needs of the personnel and immediately implemented plans to address deficiencies.
In December 2012, the MAX Transit board approved the purchase of 30 new 40-foot CNG New Flyer Buses equipped with an external/internal camera security system (audio/visual). One of many notable things Mrs. August accomplished in less than 10 months of service is she worked with the vendor to ensure an earlier arrival for the buses. The buses are now in service. Mrs. August has been a great addition to the team.
Second, on May 22, of this year Governor Robert Bentley signed Act 2013-380, which revised the laws governing MAX Transit for the first time in 25 years. The bill was introduced by Rep. Rod Scott (District 55) and carried by Sen. Linda Coleman (District 20).
Third, we will soon break ground on a new intermodal facility to be built on Morris Avenue. It will be home to MAX Transit, Greyhound and Amtrak facilities. Under the leadership and the support of Mayor William Bell, the Birmingham City Council and a team of professionals, the project is moving forward. Estimated completion date is fall 2015.
Finally, MAX Transit has established a partnership with the Birmingham Police Department to enhance safety and security on public transit vehicles. Safety and security are important priorities to Max and our ridership.
New leadership, new facility, new legislation, new buses and new partnerships are just samples of the changes that have taken place. More changes are coming. It is a New Day at MAX Transit!
Just imagine public transportation in Birmingham 50 Years Forward. In the next 50 years, we can have a transit system that we can be proud of.
- Becoming a regional transportation authority
- The ability to move our transit system to all points in the region, including Blount, Tuscaloosa, Shelby and St. Clair Counties
- Becoming a major contributing factor to a viable, sustainable economy
- Full funding provided by both public and private sources
- Obtaining an additional fleet of reliable clean-fuel vehicles
- Reduced wait times
- Park and ride lot services
- An improved downtown city center circulator
- Service seven days a week
- Fulfilling the transportation needs and expectation of individuals within the region, with and without mobility options
- Offering improvements to air quality
- Offering improvements to the quality of life of all citizens in the region
Every item listed is attainable. In the past, the success of MAX Transit has rested upon the shoulders of the board, employees, participating municipalities, federal funds and grants. This fact is also changing. We are diligently expanding our team of stakeholders and partners to assist in building one of the best transit systems in the nation.
Comments are often made about how other cities have great transit systems. Working together, we can have the best in the nation! Isn’t that what 50 Years Forward should look like? Working together as One Team with One Goal as One Community, we all will realize our potential! This is something to think about, and we hope you will help us achieve these goals.
I invite you to visit the MAX Transit website for more information or to share your comments.