Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

ABQ City Council to vote on decisions surrounding free bus ride program

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Major changes could be coming to the City of Albuquerque’s transit system, and they could impact how you get around town. This week, City Council is expected to take final action on three proposals discussing the Zero Fare Pilot Program and how to make the buses safer.

Public transit in Albuquerque has been a hot topic over the last few months, as city leaders and community members go back and forth over issues like safety and bus fares.

On Wednesday, January 18, the City of Albuquerque is expected to finally make a vote after two extra weeks of discussion on whether the free fare program will stay in place or if the city should move to a bus pass system.

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Under the bus pass system, riders would pay a $1 for a ride and $2 for a day pass, or riders can ride for free all if they show any form of ID. Proposal critics argue the ID rule puts up a barrier.

“I feel like we’re making the hardest for the most disadvantaged people in our community to use this system, and it really should be the reverse,” said a community member during the last council meeting.

Others believe a pass system will hold riders accountable and is a step in the right direction in keeping riders and drivers safe.

“To kind of identify who’s riding the bus, so if there are those outliers, so we can find out who they are and make sure everyone else gets to ride the bus safely,” said Councilor Klarissa Peña.

Council will also vote on a bill sponsored by Councilor Peña that would create a ‘transit tactical plan’.

The goal is to improve how security issues on buses are reported and tracked and to prevent access to riders repeatedly causing trouble.

“I would be fearful for my child or my son or daughter to be riding the bus as a means of transportation to get to work and knowing that they’re being confronted with this on a daily basis,” said Peña.

A third bill, sponsored by Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn and Councilor Pat Davis, would allocate a million dollars to increase security personnel and legally label them as peace officers, giving them more legal authority to crack down on bad behavior. However, that bill also aims to keep the free fare program in place.

It is possible the council could opt to postpone the vote on these proposals again. If that happens, it will mark the fifth time the decision has been postponed.

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