Birmingham, apparently. After the federal government set aside $100 million for the city to improve and initiate transit efforts, regional officials have chosen to allow the offer to expire.
In order to receive the money, Birmingham was responsible for drawing up an approved plan, allowing a 20 percent match with local funding, and providing a reliable source of revenue for maintenance of the plan.
While many planners have worked tirelessly to see this effort reach fruition, the municipalities seem to have come to a standstill.
It’s no secret that Alabama is far, far behind many other states in terms of transit availability. Birmingham has nothing to lose and everything to gain from the implementation of a stronger, better funded transit system – especially during a time when people across the country rely on transit more than ever before.
Conservation Alabama applauds the efforts of those elected officials who have chosen to work together for transit, and we are extremely disappointed that these funds have been allowed to expire.
Since early January, I’ve been anxiously skimming over every prefiled bill that makes its way onto ALISON, searching for legislation regarding Alabama’s environmental policies. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s slim pickins’ this session for those of us who think green; but today, I was made aware of a quiet little bill making its way into Montgomery.
Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) is ready to bring about some much-needed revenue for our state’s transportation facilities and services – courtesy of those individuals behind the wheels of vehicles that get less than 27 miles per gallon.
Yes, there are exceptions to the rule – private vehicles past the ripe old age of 10 are exempt, as are those that do not have an established EPA fuel economy rating. If your vehicle gets 27 or more MPG, your annual cost is zero, but those vehicles getting 10 MPG or less will pay an annual fee of $240.
As the mileage gets better, the price goes down. Pretty simple.
To sweeten the pot, 75 percent of the funds raised from the tax will be earmarked specifically for public transportation projects that have been approved by the metropolitan planning organization or regional planning commission. The remaining 25 percent may be used to improve roads.
Transit has been a hot topic throughout the state lately, particularly in the Birmingham area. Should this legislation pass, the opportunities for increasing public transportation use will be substantial, resulting in less vehicles on the road in the first place, decreasing carcinogenic toxins in the air, and promoting physical activity and wellness.
Conservation Alabama is proud to support this bill, and we look forward to working with Rep. Todd and others to help get this bill passed this legislative session.