Birmingham Xpress extends free period through the end of 2022

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Myra Tarver walks onto one of Birmingham’s new Xpress rapid Bus Lines on Sept. 22, 2022, in Birmingham, AL.

Rashah McChesney/Gulf States Newsroom, WBHM

It’s been two months since the Birmingham Xpress (BX) launched with an advertised 30 days of free rides. Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority officials have now extended the free ride period until the end of the year. 

BJCTA officials said the bus line would transform the way people travel across the city by using the latest technology. According to the transit office, the Birmingham Xpress has had more than 30,000 riders in the first two months.  

City leaders celebrate after a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new Xpress Rapid Bus Line on Thursday.
City leaders celebrate after a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new Xpress Rapid Bus Line on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022 in Birmingham, Alabama.

One of those riders is Diamond Brooks. She’s pregnant and hasn’t been feeling well. She had just left a doctor’s appointment at UAB and then rode the bus to the Woodlawn Terminal Center. It’s an easy trip for her. 

“You don’t have to wait on another bus. It’s just one bus. And I think that was a good idea, that they made it like that,” Brooks said. 

Brooks says she prefers the Birmingham Xpress over the regular Max Transit buses. 

“Normally people don’t take the Birmingham Xpress, because everybody is not going to want to take them to the certain locations that they go to. They don’t go everywhere like the normal, the regular Max buses,” Brooks said. 

William Britton, who is without a home, sits inside a Birmingham Xpress bus.
William Britton says he’s using BX bus services while the rides are free.

Then there’s William Britton. He’s without a home and usually hangs out at the central bus terminal downtown. He says he uses the Birmingham Xpress because it’s free at the moment and keeps him from getting in trouble at the terminal. 

“I just ride around on the bus, try to stay away from the bus station cause it’s too much trouble down there, too much conflict,” Britton said. 

Some people have complained that it can be difficult to find out where exactly the bus stops are. The Birmingham Xpress website has a simple map of the route but doesn’t give addresses for the stops. They also advertise that a dedicated BX app is coming soon, but it still hasn’t launched. 

According to BJCTA CEO Charlotte Shaw, they’re focusing on the basics before tackling the more involved technical issues. 

“We’re working as an organization to enhance some of this technology and enhance it with our routes, which is what all the agencies are doing right now. But again, like everybody else, we have a work shortage, we have a driver shortage. We have professional challenges in this environment. And so we’re looking for people to help us move some of these projects along,” Shaw said. 

Birmingham Xpress
Side view of one of the many Birmingham Xpress buses.

As far as extending the free ride period, Shaw says they’re still trying to get the word out about the service. She said the ridership numbers are great, but they want more.

“We thought we would do 30 days, but the response on the corridor has been so great that we want to extend that and continue to see if that ridership will rise. Because what that’s telling us is that more and more people are taking the bus and we’re seeing that,” Shaw said. 

The bus will continue to be free until the end of 2022, but starting on January 1st, it will be $1.50 one-way. And as far as the app, Shaw won’t give a launch date, but she says it’s still coming… soon!

 

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