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First step towards Regional Transportation

By By Jo Bonner
Earlier this month, a commuter bus made its maiden journey across
Mobile Bay traveling from Fairhope to Mobile's Bienville Square. This partnership between the Baldwin Rural Area Transit System (BRATS) and The Wave Transit System of Mobile is the first step toward a regional transportation system.
The new service, BAYLINC, is specifically designed to connect Baldwin County's Eastern Shore to Mobile's downtown business district. BAYLINC's fares range from $1.50 to $3 one way, depending on the distance traveled, and it provides four trips per day Monday through Friday with two trips to Mobile each morning and two each late afternoon to Fairhope.
As I have said on many occasions, a strong infrastructure is just as important as a well-trained workforce in attracting new business and industry to the area.
I, along with many of our local elected and business leaders in both Baldwin and Mobile counties, have been working for several years at making a regional transportation system a reality here in southwest Alabama.
Starting with the Southwest Alabama Leadership Summit held in Mobile in 2003, for which I served as honorary chairman, we in southwest Alabama began thinking as a region rather than as individual towns, cities, and counties.
In 2005, the Baldwin County Public Transit Coalition, the Wave Transit System, and Envision Coastal Alabama hosted the first Regional Public Transit Summit, which enabled our local leaders to suggest new and innovative ways of improving the transportation infrastructure in south Alabama.
In addition to the clear economic benefits a regional transit system will bring to our area, it will also provide safety and environmental improvements.
Consider some surprising statistics:
According to the Baldwin task force study released in June 2007, even though more middle-income workers will be needed in the county, they will have a harder time finding homes they can afford. When you combine this fact with increased traffic and gas prices over $3 per gallon, it is clear, the time has come for a regional transit system.
A regional transit system will be crucial in the coming years as we work together to continue strengthening our regional economy and encouraging further business growth and investment in our area.
"Do-Not-Call" for how long?
It's hard to believe, but our national Do-Not-Call registry has been in effect for almost five years.
This national registry empowers the American people with choosing whether they want to receive telemarketing calls at home or on their cell phones.
The registry, which now contains more than 145 million phone numbers, will stop most – but not all – telemarketing calls.
The registry has proven extremely popular. According to a 2006 Harris Interactive survey, 94 percent of American adults have heard of the Do-Not-Call registry, and 76 percent have placed their phone numbers on it.
When the registry was first authorized by Congress, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) adopted a five-year re-registration mechanism, which meant that starting on June 1, 2008, the list would start eliminating those who have been on it for five years.
Last month, however, the FTC committed to Congress that it will not drop any telephone numbers from the list based on the five-year expiration. Since the launch of the list, a scrubbing program, which removes disconnected and reassigned phone numbers each month, has been implemented.
If you have not already done so, you can place your home and cell phone numbers on the list by calling 1-888-382-1222 (TTY 1-866-290-4236) or go online to www.donotcall.gov <http://www.donotcall.gov> .
If you are interested in obtaining more information on the Do-Not-Call registry, I would encourage you to visit the FTC's official Web site, www.ftc.gov/donotcall <http://www.ftc.gov/donotcall> .
My staff and I work for you. If we can ever be of service, do not hesitate to call my office toll free at 1-800-288-8721 or visit my website at http://bonner.house.gov.
Jo Bonner is a U.S. congressman. His column appears weekly.