Let’s see some data on Bus Rapid Transit

The City of Albuquerque is seriously considering a bus rapid transit (BRT) system on Central (and possibly in other corridors of the City). And, while we have a general idea of the total costs of construction ($85 million picked up by the City with $340 million picked up by federal taxpayers), we have no idea what the system would cost to maintain, nor do we have any idea whether the proposed investment is needed or how dedicating a lane of traffic along Central to just buses would impact other users (motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians). Nor do we know exactly how much the proposed project would reduce in terms of commute times along Central.

While the Mayor is certainly correct in advocating less-expensive BRT over the light rail plan of his predecessor, that doesn’t mean BRT is needed or that it will have a net-positive impact on congestion (or economic development) along Central. As transportation analyst Randal O’Toole (generally a supporter of BRT) notes, “Unless the BRT line carries more new transit riders than the vehicles that once used the transformed lane, the resulting loss of roadway capacity leads to increased congestion.”

It is not as if the City of Albuquerque or Washington have money burning a hole in their pockets. As one recent commenter noted, there have been several security incidents on buses around town recently, “Sorry, Mr. Mayor, but the ‘next logical step in public transportation’ is a massive increase in public safety onboard the existing busses — more cops and fewer drug addicts and mentally ill who currently make riding the Rapid Bus along Central a non-starter for most citizens.”

As usual, we’ll keep an eye on things and weigh in as details emerge and the process moved along. At this point there are many questions left unanswered.

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4 Replies to “Let’s see some data on Bus Rapid Transit”

  1. I grew up in San Francisco and the bus system there spoiled me. Not only were there multitudinous bus lines transecting the city, but a bus arrived every 10 minutes at a stop to pick up passengers. And, the buses were always packed with people. The joke was you couldn’t smoke an entire cigarette before a bus showed up at your stop. Albuquerque cannot afford the kind of bus system that exists in a city like San Francisco or a rail system that exists in Washington DC – another plum transit system. I don’t know why ABQ doesn’t just invest in more buses and create more intersecting routes so that people can really get by without a car if they had to. Two intersecting BRT lines in the city is not going to hack it. I live near 98th and Dennis Chavez and while we have a few buses in our area, not one can get me from my house to the Sunport. I still need a car to drive 20 minutes to airport parking and take a shuttle to the terminal. As a consumer, I want the most direct bus line I can take to get where I want to go. I don’t want to spend time going around Robin Hood’s barn to get anywhere. And, forget about getting to medical appointments at multitudinous medical offices and centers scattered throughout the city. It takes all day to get anyplace (to and fro) in this city on a bus. Timewise, it’s cheaper to take a cab and cabs aren’t cheap. Not to mention that we should be decreasing our financial dependence on Washington, not increasing it. The most efficient and cost effective mode of transportation in ABQ is the automobile. I know that doesn’t bode well with a lot of ECO folks, but them’s the facts.

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