One of the fastest-growing cities in the South is making major changes to its public transit system.
By September 2024, Huntsville plans to open a new public transfer station in the heart of downtown, near the intersection of Pratt Avenue and Church Street. The city's plan to have a new transfer station built by 2024 is a sign of good things to come, something Jessie Bennett Jr., a 25-year resident, has seen with Huntsville recently.
Bennett said he rides the bus every day and enjoys the public transit system.
"I think it’s very efficient," said Bennett. "Each year since I’ve been riding the bus, I have seen improvements."
John Autry, transit manager for the City of Huntsville, said he understands the need for transit growth is imminent.
"Huntsville is one of the fastest-growing cities in the South," Autry said. "We’re very spread out, so we will need to look at different, innovative ways to meet the transit needs of customers."
Autry, who used to work in Atlanta, said that while Huntsville isn't currently on the same level, the two cities sharing a comparison down the road isn’t a huge stretch.
"Who knows? In 10–15 years, we could have more in common with the bigger cities," he said.
Bennett said the growth is good for the city. Part of what draws Bennett to continue to use Huntsville's public transit system is how well the employees do their job.
"The staff is friendly, respectable and always looking out to make sure their passengers are taken care of," Bennett said.
The new public station will also host a pickup and dropoff area for Uber, Lyft and taxis to help accommodate those using rideshare services.
This project is made possible through a $12.5-million Federal Transit Administration grant that will cover 80% of the cost. The City of Huntsville will have to match 20%.
Mayr Tommy Battle believes the new public station will help improve public transit for residents across all sectors of the city.