Sometimes you have to laugh at Homewood

Birmingham busWhen I first saw the headline, my instinct was to laugh.

But after a few seconds I began to weep uncontrollably.

We and our Birmingham suburbs are sometimes so dumb you might think we all graduated from “Dumb School.”

While progressive southern cities make big-picture transformative decisions, we scurry back into our municipal silos and think small.

Here’s the headline…


Yes, that’s right, “Homewood council members are looking into options to create their own bus service to run throughout Homewood.”

It’s bad enough that Jefferson County has…

  • 37 municipalities
  • 53 fire departments
  • 24 police departments
  • 16 emergency 911 call centers

Maybe one day, if we play our cards just right, we will have 19 totally disconnected bus systems?

Related: Three hellish numbers wrecking Birmingham

Several years ago when our Regional Chamber of Commerce visited our peer Southern cities to learn best practices, we heard civic leaders from Charlotte and Nashville brag about how they were competing with cities in China or Japan.

When we came back to Birmingham we learned how Irondale was competing with Hoover.

Related: Nick Saban proves we in Birmingham are bunch of suckers

Homewood may have every right to be frustrated with the Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority, but the result is the same–duplication of services and squandered resources that could be better used to fund state of the art transit, schools, or to attract new companies and jobs.

Soon we may be flying out of the Fultondale International Airport, visiting the Gardendale Museum of Art, or taking our children to the Midfield Zoo.

Charlotte has light rail.

Metropolitan Nashville is developing a $6 billion transit plan that includes light rail.

Meanwhile we’re considering an independent Homewood bus system.

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David Sher is Co-Founder of AmSher Compassionate Collections.  He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

Invite David to speak to your group about a better Birmingham.

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8 thoughts on “Sometimes you have to laugh at Homewood”

  1. I read that article the other day and was a bit stunned. I’m not sure how to pull these communities together and allow greater sharing of resources but it needs to be a priority. As a newcomer, it’s very difficult to understand how Birmingham works. Maybe we can write letters to Homewood and ask them to coordinate with Jefferson County? I’m sure they’re frustrated, as we all are, but I would hope they could be part of the solution instead of doing their own thing. I’m also hopeful for the future of transit in Jefferson County. It’s a major issue if we want this city to take a step forward.

  2. Wow. You’re definitely right…we need to find a way to get all of the municipalities to join and work together, instead of trying to stand alone and do their own thing.

  3. The issue always comes down to money & return in its investment. I’ll encourage one of Homewood’s leaders to chime in with his perspective on public transportation. We can and should always be one community.

  4. For those not familiar with the history of the BJCTA, the following links to the “Trail of Tears” history compiled in 2014.

    Since that time, Ann August, the latest director who really pushed things forward resigned last year.
    I have real doubts about the regional leadership and BCJCTA being able to deliver a working transit system capable of handling the needs of the World Games in 2021. You can’t Uber yourself out the transit requirements for a 10,000 participant event. And organizing and laying in private coach transport requires just as much work, and leaves no lasting infrastructure legacy .

    I came from a city with good transit (Toronto). This state and this region continues to disappoint me in this area. Have now been here seven years.

  5. Here’s hoping that this action by Homewood will spur greater effort to work together for a regional transit system. It is crazy that we have not. Responding to one comment above, there is no logic to our current woefully inadequate system, other than narrow, petty, greedy self-interest on the part of some, racial/class-orientatation from others and ignorance of those who feel no need and do not understand the benefits for all of quality transit.
    As Shirley Hicks noted, we took a huge ‘hit’ when Ann August and other professional staff left BJCTA. So, let’s make the best of what we’ve got and work together push both the BJCTA, local and state officials to work on the transit system the area needs–and deserves.
    Did you you know that ALDOT’s 2040 plan ignores transit. Even sadder is that at the meeting held–way down 280 and basically inaccessible for many–two weeks ago, the only commentary came from a group of dedicated supporters of mass transit. Ironically the Atlanta-based consultants admitted to using that area’s transit services regularly.
    If you’re interested in action: TCAB (Transit Citizens Advisory Board), Community Affairs Committee, Greater Birmingham Ministries, Alabama Arise and League of Women Voters are among the groups that support quality transportation.
    Also, Weld on Birmingham regularly covers transit,

  6. Wow, great idea to call your neighbor “dumb”. That always goes over well. Real classy.

    I just wish I could downvote this dumb article.

    Instead of name-calling, why not try understanding their point of view for a change.

  7. What is dumb is for Homewood to pay more than $300,000 a year in fees for something that isn’t beneficial/used. If the service isn’t creating a benefit worth the cost, it’s dumb to pay for it. That money could go towards expansion of the schools – or anything that would actually provide a benefit.

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