The City of Birmingham has had a public transportation system for over 100 years, starting in 1884 with the Birmingham Street Railway Company. During the early years several private lines provided service to various sections of the city and surrounding areas. By 1890, several of these private companies were consolidated into a single company to form the Birmingham Railway and Electric Company.
For the next 30 years, until the mid-1920s, the system grew and ridership increased. Between the mid-20s and World War II, ridership declined with the increasing popularity of the private automobile. However, during the war, and the years immediately following, ridership was at its peak.
In 1972, the State Legislature passed enabling legislation permitting the formation of publicly operated transit authorities in Alabama, thereby creating The Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority (BJCTA). In 1997, the operations and maintenance functions were outsourced but were brought back in-house in 2003. In 1985, BJCTA developed and aggressively marketed the “MAX” tag name, now a common household name.
In 1999, MAX opened the current Central Station location on Morris Avenue. This facility is Phase I of a multi-phase Intermodal Transfer Facility that is slated to house and provide connections to all forms of ground transportation including an airport shuttle service.
In the 2000′s, MAX began replacing its bus fleet with the purchase of Compressed Natural Gas buses. Clean and efficient, MAX has made a commitment to air quality and pollution control. During this time a new system map, route schedule book, and new shelters and route signs were all put into place.
MAX depends on local, federal, mandated funding, and fares to operate. They receive dedicated funding from a Beer Tax and Ad Valorem funding. They continue to seek other dedicated funding sources.
Currently, MAX provides fixed route and demand response service (Paratransit) to various municipalities. The current service area is more than 200 square miles with a demand population base of nearly 400,000. The municipalities within the service area are Birmingham, Bessemer, Homewood, Mountain Brook, Midfield, Center Point, Hoover, Vestavia Hills, and Tarrant. Passenger trips and service miles are approximately three million (3,000,000) each annually.