Albuquerque residents are already paying millions for bus rapid transit

Things have been rather quiet on the Albuquerque Rapid Transit front recently. City staff has been meeting with opposed Central Avenue business owners in an effort to gain support for the project. Also, just today, driving down Paseo del Norte I saw a billboard promoting the bus rapid transit system (those billboards aren’t free, by the way, in fact they are more taxpayer-financed lobbying) as far as I’m concerned.

That got me to thinking, “With projected costs at $130 million now (including $30 million to re-locate water and sewer lines), what has already been spent on this project? After all, consultants (and advertising) don’t come cheap. Fortunately, thanks to the City’s “ABQ the View” transparency site (kudos to Mayor Berry on that), you can look up some information on how much the City has spent on consultants Parsons Brinkerhoff and HDR (the folks who brought us the Rail Runner, which is assisting in planning the system). The former has studied the issue for the City.

As we found on “ABQ the View,” HDR and Parsons Brinkerhoff have raked in a total of $12.3 million in the last few years. The City’s website does not break out exactly what the money was for, but we believe that a majority of HDR’s $9.6 million was for bus rapid transit while all or nearly allof the Parsons Brinkerhoff Company’s $2.6 million was for the bus.

Whatever the exact amount, City of Albuquerque taxpayers are already paying out significant money for a project that they’ve had no say over, has never seen even a stand-alone, up-or-down vote in City Council, and the final details of which are very unclear.