Birmingham gets state transit funds

By Ashley Nix

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A billion dollar roads and transportation bill was passed in the state legislative session that ended Thursday.  In it is funding for transit in Birmingham.

Birmingham City Councilor Kim Rafferty was in Montgomery when the vote came down. She told FOX6 News she was thrilled to know, for the first time, state funding had been dedicated solely to transit.

"It's a small amount," Rafferty said.  "Whether or not it does any good has to do with the people who get the money and what they intend to do with it."

Rafferty, along with Birmingham Mayor William Bell, are banking on the money being used to match federal funds coming to Birmingham.

"As matching funds, that $2 million can turn into $10, $12, $14 million with federal funds," Bell told FOX6 News Thursday.

The combined amounts will hopefully be used to purchase new, reliable buses.  "We've got to have some more buses," Bell said.  "I think this will go a long way to our goal to getting a new fleet."

Rafferty is hoping this will all come to fruition, instead of the money being used by the Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority for everyday operations.

"The BJCTA has a lot of problems with funding operations and we have to overcome those shortfalls," Rafferty said.

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