Bus rapid transit discussion takes a turn…for the better

The Rio Grande Foundation had planned on hosting a debate on the Berry Administration’s bus rapid transit system for Central Avenue. Then, at the last second, Paul Silverman (my expected debate opponent and a supporter of the plan) backed out.

So, after spending many hours frantically calling the City, City Council, and a dozen or so other supporters of the plan, I went ahead with a community discussion of the event which wound up being attended by 80-100 folks last night at the UNM Law School. The room was rather evenly split between supporters and opponents and D’Val Westphal, author of the “Road Warrior” columns in the Albuquerque Journal and a member of that paper’s editorial board helped moderate the discussion.

Overall, as Dan McKay pointed out in an article following the debate, the discussion was both well-informed and spirited. In other words, I’m glad we did it. Having the additional time and opportunity for concerned citizens to weigh in made the event a big success regardless of the format.

It is clear that the City needs to engage directly with citizens to get more input and better illustrate what the proposal means for mobility along Central. The controlled “open-house” dog and pony shows aren’t enough. Transforming the most iconic and recognizable street in Albuquerque without a vote of City Council or informed buy-in from the citizenry is a huge mistake.

Channel 13 KRQE also covered the event here. Lastly, there is a grassroots organization that has sprung up in opposition to the BRT called Save RT 66 where you can take action by contacting policymakers. They can be reached by email as well at: info@savert66.org