Despite (or because of) “free” fares Albuquerque bus ridership remains well-below pre-pandemic levels

On January 1, 2022 the City of Albuquerque began what it calls a “pilot program” offering “free” bus fares for all riders. The program cost an additional $3 million above and beyond the usual cost of the City’s bus system.

Not surprisingly (given national trends in transit ridership), the number of people riding Albuquerque buses remains well below pre-pandemic levels. In fact, even with “free” fares in place ridership was 33 percent lower than it was in 2019.

Ridership numbers were a bit higher than the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, but the trend line remains negative for Albuquerque’s bus system regardless of the “new” ART system and zero-fares.