More than 70 people gathered at the Alabama State House steps earlier this week to call on state and federal leaders to provide a stable and sustainable source of public transportation funding. This gathering was held in advance of the Alabama Transit Symposium, which now is under way.
Rev. Lawton Higgs of the Birmingham Bus Riders, along with Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority Executive Director Ann August, Montgomery Area Transit Authority General Manager Kelvin Miller and J.O. Hill, president of Birmingham’s local transit workers’ union and BJCTA's citizens' board, were on hand as speakers voicing a common plea—a plea shared by other attendees, many of whom are citizens and riders alike.
The Montgomery Area Transit System parked a refurbished 1950s-era bus at the rally site. This was the type of bus in use during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which took place 60 years ago. Transit officials and riders from Birmingham, Gadsden, Montgomery and Mobile were attendance; also, notably, in the attendance were leaders from areas lacking transit systems.
The purpose of the Alabama Transit Symposium is to discuss challenges to securing a sustained funding stream for transit systems in the state and to organize advocacy for leaning on Congress to pass a long-term transportation bill. While the symposium ended this past Wednesday afternoon, second rally was held Thursday morning as part of the American Public Transportation Association's “Stand Up 4 Transportation” nationwide rally.