LWVGB Public Transit 20150125
Transit needs leaders

Public transit needs a leader to take us forward in the Greater Birmingham area according to Shirley Worthington, public transit advocate, who spoke to a crowd who listened to a panel describe the past, present and future of public transit Sunday, January 25th.

The League of Women Voters sponsored the Sunday afternoon meeting at the Homewood Library.

Featured were Worthington, long time transit advocate who ran Clastran when it was under United Way; Ann Dawson-August, Executive Director of the BJCTA (MAX) and former Executive Director of the transit system in North Carolina;
and Nancy Ekberg, Chair of Public Transit for the League.

Worthington described the difficulty in Alabama where there is no state planning or funding for transit, and groups who want to keep things just as they are to benefit their agendas. But her main push was to find leaders who would actually lead the effort for transit, and not just talk about how important it is. She said most people recognize that transit is an economic engine but that in Alabama it is often a race issue, or focused only on the elderly and handicapped.

We need leaders and we have one, in Ann Dawson-August, ED of MAX. She has improved service since she took office, adding more routes, reliability and even Saturday service plus Friday and Saturday evening service! She has brought e-mail availability so riders can track their busses. She recognizes the economic tool it is and meets with businesses to form partnerships.

The recent decision by the World Games to bring them here in 2021 is an incentive to improve transit in order to accommodate all the world travelers who will come to watch.

Handouts on current plans and on Birmingham's transit history were available.

From the audience, Rev. Lawton Higgs said he was seeking a grant that would fund grassroots efforts in Alabama for transit. And August mentioned a nationwide effort to ask states to set aside a day in April to focus citizens' attention on the need for public transit.

We will bring more information as Higgs' and August's transit promotion dates approach.

News coverage @
"Robust transit possible in Alabama, but cooperation, leadership and political will lacking, advocate" says by Michael J. Smith, @TrafficMike_BHM, traffic and transportation reporter for AL.com/The Birmingham News
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