ClasTran asks for money from Birmingham City Council

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The future of ClasTran appears to be tied into Mayor Bell's new mass transit plan that is expected to be revealed tomorrow.

ClasTran has asked the city for $300,000 to keep running for the rest of the year, but tonight a city council committee delayed work on that request until they hear from the mayor.

ClasTran bus service helps transport senior citizens and the disabled to senior centers or doctor's appointments, but the service's leadership said in January they would need an additional $600,000 to have access to their federal funding and stay open for the rest of this year.

Jefferson County came up with $300,000 and Bessemer is contributing $15,000. But ClasTran is asking the city of Birmingham to come up with the difference.

"Sixty percent of our riders originate from the city of Birmingham, and we have never been given anything from the city of Birmingham to provide our local funding," said Fenn Church, ClasTran's executive director.

A proposal to give ClasTran $243,000 was tabled at a city council meeting Monday afternoon after Mayor William Bell asked the council to hold off until he unveils his master plan for mass transit citywide, expected Tuesday.

"Out of courtesy, out of respect to him, allow him to put his plan before us, and then we can tweak it however we think we need to deal with that," said Steven Hoty, the City Council's President Pro Tempore.

Despite the delay, ClasTran officials and Hoyt feel certain the agency will eventually get the money it needs to keep operating.

"He understands ClasTran," Church said of Bell. "He's been associated with us for a long time and I think he understands our needs and I think he will try to help us out any way that he can. "

"I think he is inclined to provide some funding for a period of time, as he is looking at other things with respect to the transit system," Hoyt said. "ClasTran is important to us as well."

ClasTran officials say they don't need all of the money from the city right now, they just need a commitment so that they can start drawing matching federal funds.