Public Transportation

HB 454 and SB 360 offer a new approach to public transportation funding in Alabama

Inadequate funding for public transportation keeps thousands of Alabamians from meeting basic needs. A small-town mom, for example, risks losing her factory job every time her car breaks down. An urban retiree who doesn’t drive can’t get to the grocery store. Without reliable rides, rural Medicaid patients miss check-ups and treatments. Communities around Alabama must meet the challenge of connecting people to jobs, retail and service opportunities, health care and educational centers. (Click here for a PDF version of this bill overview.)

A 1952 amendment to Alabama’s constitution (Amendment 93) makes it illegal to use state gasoline tax revenues for anything other than building and maintaining roads and bridges. As a result, one of the most logical sources of state funding for public transportation remains off limits in Alabama. Without any state transit funding, Alabamians will continue to lack the public transportation options that residents of most other states enjoy. Building a modern public transit infrastructure would provide a job-creating boost for economic development.

HB 454, sponsored by Rep. Jack Williams, R-Vestavia Hills, and SB 360, sponsored by Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, offer a new approach to state funding for public transportation. The bills would:

  • Create the Alabama Public Transportation Trust Fund as a repository for future state appropriations for expanding public transit options in the state.
  • Authorize the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) to administer the fund, including making and auditing project awards.
  • Require ADECA to adopt trust fund rules, conduct a public transportation needs assessment and make annual reports.
  • Create an advisory committee to ensure that projects supported by the trust fund address the needs of rural areas, seniors, and people with disabilities in Alabama.

BOTTOM LINE: HB 454 and SB 360 represent a sensible first step toward expanding public transportation options in our state. Alabama is one of only five states that provide no state funding for public transportation. Every year, Alabama leaves millions of dollars in matching federal transportation funds on the table because we don’t put up the state portion. It’s time to invest in public transportation and ensure all Alabamians can get where they need to go.

Posted May 5, 2017.

Alabama's public transportation system needs a tune-up, report concludes

Alabama's transportation system forces residents to rely too much on automobiles and undermines the state's economic growth, according to "Connecting Our Citizens for Prosperity," an October 2014 report released by Alabama State University's Center for Leadership and Public Policy. Jon Broadway, Ph.D., and ACPP policy analyst Stephen Stetson are the report's authors.

Alabama is one of only five states providing no state money for public transportation. That lack of investment effectively isolates many residents who are unable to drive or lack access to private vehicles, the study finds. It also means Alabama is forgoing the new jobs that building and maintaining public transit options would bring, ACPP executive director Kimble Forrister said.

"Our state's current transportation system simply can't be sustained," Forrister said. "Alabama's failure to invest in public transportation means too many of our neighbors can't get where they need to go when they need to get there. That doesn't just hurt them; it hurts our entire state's economy."

Read ACPP's news release here.

Read the full "Connecting Our Citizens for Prosperity" report here.

Public Transportation Policy Choices 2012

A 1952 amendment to Alabama's constitution (Amendment 93) makes it illegal to use state gasoline tax revenues for anything other than building and maintaining roads and bridges. As a result, the most logical source of state funding for public transportation remains off limits for such services in Alabama. Without any state transit funding, Alabamians will continue to lack the public transportation options that residents of many other states enjoy.

Read issue brief here.

Transportation Policy Choices 2007

A 1952 amendment to Alabama's constitution makes it illegal to use state gas tax and license fee revenues -- a logical source of transit funds -- for any purpose other than building and maintaining roads and bridge.

This fact sheet  This fact sheet outlines proposed public transportation funding legislation for 2007.

Alabama Roadblock: Our Public Transit Gap

Inadequate public transportation keeps thousands of Alabamians from meeting basic needs. More than 50 years after the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) provides no public transit funding. A 1952 amendment to Alabama's constitution makes it illegal to use state gas tax and license fee revenuse -- a logical source of transit funds -- for any purpose other than building and maintaining roads and bridges.

 This fact sheet This fact sheet describes the history and current impact of Alabama's failure to fund public transportation.

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