5 things you need to know about the new Birmingham Xpress rapid transit system

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Birmingham Express (Bham Now)
Soon, you’ll notice these orange Birmingham Xpress buses throughout The Magic City. (Bham Now)

Birmingham Xpress—a brand new, first-of-its-kind public transportation system in The Magic City—is set to begin operations this year. Designed to work in conjunction with MAX Transit buses, Birmingham Xpress will offer fast, on-time, comfortable and—most importantly—affordable public transportation to residents of the city.

Keep reading for all the details on Birmingham Xpress!

But first, what is the Birmingham Xpress?

Birmingham Express (Bham Now)
A Birmingham Xpress stop near Railroad Park. (Bham Now)

Have you noticed the new, sleek bus stops located throughout Birmingham? They’re part of the Birmingham Xpress route, an upcoming public transit system that offers fast, reliable and cost-effective transport to residents of 25 Birmingham neighborhoods.

As Alabama’s first bus rapid transit line, Birmingham Xpress utilizes Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) technology to connect residents to new opportunities and services between Five Points West and Woodlawn in the city.

1. Birmingham Xpress uses Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) technology

Birmingham Express (Bham Now)
Brittnee Thomas, a driver inside a Birmingham Xpress bus. (Bham Now)

Not familiar with BRT? Think light-rail transit on rubber wheels. The Birmingham Xpress can travel as fast as light rail—and at one-third of the construction cost.

What sets Birmingham Xpress apart from traditional bus-based public transport? For starters, Birmingham Xpress will utilize dedicated bus lanes to bypass traffic that delayed traditional buses. And that’s not all—each Birmingham Xpress bus is outfitted with special technology that gives it priority at intersections.

2. Birmingham Xpress operates from Woodlawn to West End

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Once operational, the Birmingham Xpress will connect residents of 25 of Birmingham’s neighborhoods to the city. (Bham Now)

Designed to connect 25 of Birmingham’s neighborhoods to opportunities and services in the city, Birmingham Xpress will operate along a 10-mile route between Five Points West and Woodlawn. The route is divided into three segments:

The East Segment runs from the Woodlawn Community Transit System to 18th Street in Downtown Birmingham along 1st Avenue North.

Next, the In-Town Transit Partnership picks up the route at the intersection of 18th Street and 1st Avenue North. The route leads south on 18th Street and then west on 5th Avenue South until the intersection of 8th Street South and 6th Avenue South.

Finally, the Western Segment begins at 5th Avenue South, continuing southbound to the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive along Elmwood Cemetery. Then, the segment leads north to the transit station at the intersection of Avenue West and 47 Street, next to the library.

3. Birmingham Xpress offers access to some of Birmingham’s best experiences

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Birmingham Xpress can get you to Birmingham’s best services and attractions, quickly & affordably. (Bham Now)

Planning a day out in Birmingham? Although parking downtown can be a challenge—especially during peak hours—Birmingham Xpress can get you where you want to go quickly.

The Birmingham Xpress’ 10-mile corridor includes stops at several of Birmingham’s most-visited attractions and services, including:

  • Birmingham Crossplex
  • Princeton Baptist Medical Center
  • Children’s Hospital
  • UAB Hospital
  • Railroad Park
  • Central Station on Morris Avenue
  • Woodlawn Business District

4. Birmingham Xpress will introduce dedicated bus lanes to The Magic City

Birmingham Express (Bham Now)
Say hello to Birmingham’s first dedicated bus lanes! (Bham Now)

In order meet the 10-15 minute headway between platforms, the City of Birmingham and the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority are working on dedicated bus lanes for Birmingham Xpress buses to use. Located on the right lane of the street, these bus lanes will make it easier to load and unload passengers at all 25 BRT platforms.

Fun Fact: Each Birmingham Xpress bus is equipped with a transit signal priority (TSP) system that allows the bus to keep the traffic signal green!

The following street will contain dedicated Birmingham Xpress bus lanes:

  • Avenue West
  • 3rd Avenue West (Bessemer Super Highway)
  • Lomb Avenue
  • MLK Jr. Boulevard
  • 6th Avenue SouthWest/South
  • 8th Street South
  • 5th Avenue South
  • 18th Street North/South

Striping will include additional crosswalk bars, directional arrows, arrows and more.

5. Each Birmingham Xpress bus is full of amenities

Did you know that each Birmingham Xpress bus can hold between 25 to 30 passengers? In addition to spacious seating, each Birmingham Xpress bus will feature:

  • Self-securing wheelchair parking
  • On-board bike rack
  • Automatic vehicle location (AVL) and transit signal priority (TSP) technologies

Birmingham Xpress will be operational in 2022

Birmingham Express (Bham Now)
Brittnee Thomas, a future driver of a Birmingham Xpress bus! (Bham Now)

Ready to try the fast, comfortable and affordable public transport of the Birmingham Xpress system? You’re in luck! The City of Birmingham and Birmingham-Jefferson Transit Authority are putting the final touches on the Birmingham Xpress system, and hope to have it fully operational soon!

Follow the City of Birmingham and the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority to stay up-to-date on the progress of the Birmingham Xpress and the Birmingham Xpress BRT Project!

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Nathan Watson

Senior Content Producer with Bham Now | Originally from Tennessee, Nathan moved to The Magic City after graduating from Birmingham-Southern College. Nathan is passionate about recognizing Birmingham's history and is thrilled to learn more about the big things planned for The Magic City's future.

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