Public transit may come to Selma

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Local officials with the Selma To Montgomery National Historic Voting Rights Trail are asking U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby to allocate $2 million in federal funds for a public transportation system in Dallas, Lowndes and Montgomery counties, according to NHVRT executive secretary Tina Price.

The NHVRT is collaborating with Yellowstone National Park Service to create a Rural Tour/Transportation District and Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) for the Black Belt, which would essentially be shuttle service the public could use to travel between the three counties.

Price, who works the Selma-Dallas County Centre of Commerce, says she often receives calls from visitors asking about a shuttle service between the Montgomery Airport and Selma.

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“A public transportation system would be a tremendous help to the Black Belt,” Price said. “We always talk about needing help, now this would be a way to actually help.”

Price said Catherine Farmer Light, superintendent of NHVRT, and representatives from Yellowstone National Park came up with the idea for a public transportation system in the Black Belt. Yellowstone is already in the process of developing an ITS that spans across three states and two national parks.

With the $2 million approved by Shelby and disbursed by the Alabama Department of Transportation, Price said, Selma could have a shuttle system that could transport tourist into the city, provide services to and within Lowndes and Montgomery counties, and provide residents with rides to and from work or school.

“Children could have transportation to a central after-school program, and people could have public transportation to their medical appointments,” Price said. “This system could really help our tourism industry and our economic development.”

This month, State Sen. Hank Sanders plans to introduce an Act to legislatures authorizing the Alabama Department of Transportation to establish the NHVRT Rural Transportation Planning Organization.

The Rural Transportation Planning Organization would consist of elected officials and representatives from various groups from the three counties, according to the Act.

Part of their duties would be to collaborate on the ITS with Yellowstone National Park and develop a long-range transportation plans and projects.

Price said she plans to distribute petitions to the Selma City Council and ask them to help her get signatures.

The signed petitions will be sent to Shelby in order to let him know about the public’s support for a public transportation system in the Black Belt.