Remember a few years ago when we were told that New Mexico’s struggling economy was causing the declines in transit ridership (especially the Rail Runner)? Well, the economy has improved but ridership of the Rail Runner AND other transit systems around New Mexico continues to decline.
Now we are told that “much of the growth is in the service industry, health care and education – fields that don’t always offer the typical 9-to-5 schedule and a predictable commute.” In other words, perhaps it is the relative decline in government jobs in Santa Fe that have declined while “real” jobs are growing? It is hard to say what exactly is causing the trend, but New Mexico’s transit systems are not alone. Transit is declining rapidly all over the nation.
In normal circumstances, given the unpopularity of transit, new investments in such outdated and unpopular services would dry up, but when government spends the money and politicians view transit as a moral good, you continue to get unwanted and unneeded projects like Albuquerque’s ART.
What is truly notable is that regardless of economic conditions or gas prices, transit ridership is in a sustained decline. Given the lack of convenience and competition with other means of getting around governments across the nation should be paring back their spending on such projects.