Busting the City’s “Myth Busting” on Albuquerque Rapid Transit

The City of Albuquerque has trotted out a new page in which they claim to “bust some myths” about their precious Albuquerque Rapid Transit.  The new report was covered by KOB TV.

Unfortunately, the City is being very selective in its approach and is manipulating language in an attempt to deflect valid criticisms of ART opponents. The following is a response to many of the alleged “myths” supposedly being “busted” by the City. In reality, they put words in the mouths of critics or simply misrepresent their concerns.

Myth: Parking spots on Central Avenue will be reduced or eliminated because of ART

According to the group “Make ART Smart,” 194 parking spots will be eliminated due to ART. The City has not specifically addressed that number. Replacing spots along the road with a Park and Ride at EXPO NM will don nothing at all in terms of businesses. That part of Central does not want for parking, it is primarily in Nob Hill and near Old Town where the concerns are and parking problems exist. They admit to spots being lost there.

We will cut down all the trees on Central Avenue because of ART

Again, reference the information from Make ART Smart which claims 217 trees will be cut down. If that is wrong, why? It sounds like the City is planning to cut down a bunch of mature trees and replace them with saplings. That is not a great tradeoff and it shows how the City is attempting to manipulate language to its ends.

The removal of left turns along the route will hurt businesses and create safety problems.

They have zero data to back them up both in terms of the safety situation and on the economic situation relating to local businesses. They are merely asserting things that have no basis in fact.

The example from Guadalajara is meaningless. The city has been talking about Cleveland for years and now they want to talk about Guadalajara?

ART will make Central Avenue less pedestrian friendly.

If the goal is to make Central more pedestrian friendly, that can be done without spending all this extra money on ART. Central is already the most pedestrian friendly area in town with the possible exceptions of Old Town and parts of downtown. They are trying to change the subject.

Traffic will be reduced to one lane throughout the entire project and traffic will be unbearable.
They are setting up a straw-man. Vehicle traffic will be reduced and congestion will be worsened due to ART. Their own data say this. Again, they are trying to change the argument.

The project only has a 19-year shelf life

As noted in their own arguments, ART is not about transportation, it is about redevelopment. No one knows what our transportation system will look like in 20 years, including the City’s planning department. Big, expensive transit projects like the Rail Runner and Washington, DC’s METRO are seeing ridership plummet as new technologies like ride-sharing come online. Self-driving cars could be next. The shelf-life for ART could be even shorter than 20 years.

This project is going to destroy historic districts and lose the historic ambience of the corridor

The entire goal of this project as stated earlier is to “redevelop” Central. The bus is just the primary tool being used by the City to do that. Central is unique and has evolved over time, but this bus will DOMINATE Central in a way that will fundamentally change its character and in ways that other bus systems do not.

Businesses will close along Central Avenue.

As noted, businesses have and will continue to open and close along Central, but massive construction projects and both temporary and long-term traffic congestion are not going to help matters for businesses along the route. Central, like the rest of Albuquerque, would benefit from stronger leadership on the economic issues at both City Hall and in Santa Fe.

The city lied on its application for the categorical exclusion about there being no opposition to the project.

It is impossible to prove the City “lied,” but according to recent polling data, 86% of ABQ voters are aware of the project and oppose it by a 2-1 basis. The City’s voters are overwhelmingly opposed to ART and this was not reflected in the City’s filings.

Conclusion: With all of the serious issues facing our City, even reasonable supporters of ART should consider three things:

  1. This is not the highest priority right now. Economic growth and crime should be.
  2. This project in its current form does not have the support of voters or most businesses along Central and should be reconsidered or seriously altered based on community input.
  3. This project would never be built were it not for the lure of “free” federal dollars which Washington continues to dole out despite being more than $19 trillion in debt.