ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — Officials with the Baldwin Regional Area Transit System (BRATS) say they are working to help local festival organizers establish alternate transportation after announcing that BRATS buses would no longer be used as festival shuttle services.
“Incidental service may be provided to assist festivals with the transition through fiscal year 2020,” according to a notice of public hearing posted on the BRATS website. “No festival service will be provided after fiscal year 2020.”
A public hearing was held Monday, Oct. 14 in the conference room at the BRATS office in Robertsdale.
Matthew Brown, director of transportation for BRATS said the move comes because of the reduction in the number of CDL drivers available and a scaling back in the number of large buses employed by the service.
“Coming into last year, we had 41 CDL licensed drivers. This year we have 34,” Brown said. “We also decided to scale back the number of large buses used for our regular service. Last year we had 14 large buses. This year we’ve reduced that number to 10 and we are in the process of eliminating another.
“We want to help out where we can and I believe people appreciated the service we provided, but it was getting to the point where we were not able to use the buses for their intended purpose because they were being used for shuttle services. We are not a charter service. We are here to serve the needs of the community and this is part of an effort to return to that as our main focus.”
Chandra Middleton, BRATS assistant director of transportation, said for the last several months, the service has been working with festival organizers to provide alternate services.
Last week’s National Shrimp Festival was able to partner with the Gulf Shores City School System, providing local school buses for a small fee that was used as a fundraiser for the school’s band and athletic programs.
“We want these festivals to succeed and are willing to work with them in any way we can to provide alternatives,” she said. “I have reached out to make sure everything went smoothly and see what we can do to help improve the transition.”
Anyone wishing more information can contact BRATS at 251-972-6817 or visit baldwincounty.gov/departments/BRATS.