A makeshift fleet of church buses, vans and taxis helped take up the slack yesterday on Birmingham's first workday without city buses, which were parked because there is no money to run them.

The city planned to send 3,700 children to public school by limousine and taxi at a charge of 50 cents per ride.

But the rest of the system's 11,000 daily riders were left to fend for themselves, with help from about 30 churches, which scraped together about 40 vehicles.

The Birmingham-Jefferson Transit Authority stopped operating its 200 daily buses when the last one pulled into the city garage at 10 p.m. Saturday. Since there has been no Sunday service since October, the first impact of the shutdown was felt at rush hour yesterday.

The transit authority said it could not continue to operate the buses in Birmingham and seven suburbs in the face of rising costs, dwindling numbers of riders and a projected deficit of $800,000 if the system operated until the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

Ridership began dropping in October, transit officials said, when the fare was raised from 60 to 80 cents -- among the nation's highest.