On Tuesday evening, Just Mobile held a rally demanding better public transportation in Mobile at the Wave Transit bus stop in front of Government Plaza.
We’re disappointed with the City of Mobile’s decision to cut $700,000 from the Wave Transit budget, eliminating routes to Prichard, Chickasaw, and Tillman’s Corner.
We’re also disappointed with decisions to relocate several bus stops, making them inconvenient and inaccessible to transit riders.
The stop at Bel Air Mall was recently relocated from near the mall to a far corner of the parking lot. This stop is a transfer point for several routes because of the mall’s central location. The inaccessibility of the new location is a burden on elderly and disabled riders.
Additionally the stops at Mobile Infirmary and Springhill Memorial Hospital were recently relocated making them more inconvenient for riders seeking medical care. The stop at Mobile Infirmary was moved from the door of the hospital to a spot in the parking lot with no shelter or benches. And the stop at Springhill Memorial Hospital was relocated across Dauphin Street to the parking lot of Atlanta Bread–also with no shelter or benches. The failure to provide accessible and convenient bus stops at Mobile Infirmary and Springhill Memorial Hospital places a particularly heavy burden on transit riders because many riders traveling to hospitals are elderly or ill.
Both the cuts to the transit budget and the relocation of stops exemplify a lack of concern for the needs of transit riders.
These changes disproportionately impact the poor, the elderly, and the disabled. But they are not just immoral; they are also shortsighted.
Public transportation is a vital city service, providing members of our community with an affordable, convenient, and safe means of transportation. Many people in Mobile depend upon public transportation to get to work, to shop, to visit friends and family, and to seek medical care.
At our rally, Tamika Williams, President of the Mobile Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, spoke of the impact these cuts have had on the visually impaired. “We’ve had people who cannot get to work. We’ve had members who have had to relocate to get to work. Transportation is the biggest issue we have to deal with in the blind community.”
The recent cuts in service and changes in accessibility at several bus stops are changes for the worse, but we don’t seek merely to undo the most recent damage. We want to see greater investment in public transportation which will pay dividends in quality of life and economic vitality. The City of Mobile cannot reach its potential without a transportation system with more routes running for longer hours and at greater frequency.
We’re disappointed that these cuts were made in the first place but are even more disappointed at our elected officials’ lack of urgency in addressing the transportation needs of the citizens of Mobile.
Make no mistake: bus service is on the ballot on August 22nd. Candidates asking for your vote must explain what they will do to improve public transportation in Mobile.