Questions to ask on Albuquerque’s proposed bus rapid transit system

If you aren’t already aware, the City of Albuquerque which now says it is facing a “severe budget crunch,” is considering the creation of a new “Bus Rapid Transit” system to run down Central Avenue. The good news is that bus rapid transit (BRT) won’t be nearly as expensive as was Mayor Marty’s proposed streetcar. The bad news is that, according to this report, the proposed BRT system will cost more than $100 million to construct. Future maintenance issues are not discussed.

Here is a schedule of public meetings on the topic. Those meetings get underway next week:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012, 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m.: Manzano Mesa Multi-Regional Center – 501 Elizabeth SE, 87123-2887
Thursday, November 29, 2012, 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m.: Alamosa Community Center – 6900 Gonzales Rd SW, 87121
Tuesday, December 4, 2012, 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m.: Loma Linda Community Center – 1700 Yale SE 87106
Tuesday, December 11, 2012, 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m.: Old Main Library/Special Collections, Botts Hall – 423 Central NE (at Edith), 87102
Thursday, December 13, 2012, 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m.: Albuquerque Museum of Art and History (Auditorium) – 2000 Mountain NW, 87104-1459

While this is just the start of the discussions, it seems that BRT should not be a priority for the City. Here are some points for discussion though:

1) At a time of budgetary distress (at both the federal and local levels), is this the best and highest use of scarce taxpayer dollars?
2) Specifically, what improvements in terms of ridership and service will we receive?
3) Could service for the existing Rapid Ride system be improved in other, less-expensive ways?
4) Will this proposal negatively impact mobility in terms of autos/pedestrians/cyclists on Central?
5) This is a big city. Is Central the best possible location for a major transit investment? How about between the airport/downtown/Old Town for example?
6) How will operations costs increase/decrease from present? How will those costs be paid?