By Scott Buttram
The idea of public or shared transit from the Trussville area to downtown Birmingham has been explored in different forms from time to time over the years, but the interest level never seems to rise to resolution level. With gasoline prices stuck above the $3 per gallon mark, is it time to reopen discussions?
In The Tribune coverage area of Trussville, Clay and Pinson, the number of commuters to downtown jobs is evidenced everyday with vehicles streaming onto the Interstate from Chalkville Road and Deerfoot Parkway. Those same Interstate exchanges are backed up with commuters returning home each evening at the end of the work day.
But commuting workers are just the most obvious benefactors.
What about the other attractions that could be within easier and cheaper reach with mass transit like the McWane Center, the Birmingham Zoo, BJCC, the Botanical Gardens, Vulcan, and countless restaurants and entertainment venues?
Birmingham Business Journal editor and Trussville resident Cindy Crawford discusses the issue of expanded mass transit with the head of the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority, Ann August, in this week’s BBJ.
“There are a few excuses we commuters make to try and tell ourselves and others that the drive is not so bad and we actually get something out of it,” Crawford writes while going on the express a sentiment shared by many suburban dwellers.
“What I really don’t want to do is move closer to the city, as many reading this would recommend,” Crawford states in her column. “No, I want to ride some form of public transportation instead. Light rail would be awesome, but I know Alabama will never fund that and, if they did, it would be for a train going to and from a wealthier and even worse-urban planned area like U.S. 280. The residents there grumble louder than us get-’er-done Trussvillians, so I am realistic that even adding lanes to widen I-59 will never happen until there are hover crafts that take 280 residents downtown in less than two minutes.”