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Birmingham MAX Transit buses have been experiencing delays and cancellations, which officials are blaming on worker shortages due to COVID-19 and the flu despite receiving millions in federal funding to help with those issues.

The Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority (BJCTA), which operates Birmingham MAX, received $780,115 in federal funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in 2021 to restore transit routes that were eliminated or reduced during COVID-19.

It also received $13.5 million more in federal funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

1819 News requested a more recent budget from the BJCTA because the latest financial information on the agency’s website is from 2018. However, we received no response.

The BJCTA has been operational since 1972, when the Alabama Legislature passed legislation allowing the creation of public transit authorities. 

The BJCTA serves not only Birmingham but also Bessemer, Homewood, Mountain Brook, Midfield, Center Point, Hoover, Vestavia Hills and Fairfield. BJCTA buses travel almost 3 million miles annually.

Birmingham residents who depend on public transportation to get to work told WBRC on Wednesday that the bus delays are making it difficult to get their job on time.

One resident said delays and cancellations happen at least two or three times a month.

The BJCTA said around 4% of trips are missed per day, which equates to 70 out of over 2,000 total trips.

It also insisted that it doesn’t have enough CDL operators and is addressing this shortage with an “aggressive hiring campaign.” The BJCTA said it will be supplementing Birmingham MAX busses with OnDemand Services as early as December. 

However, the BJCTA said there is “no quick fix” to the worker shortage, and it is looking for a “longer-term solution,” which may include redesigning the entire system in 2023.

Birmingham MAX cancellations are posted in real-time on their website.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email will.blakely@1819news.com or find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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