The Behemoth Has Begun


Supporters of Albuquerque Rapid Transit have reason to rejoice — despite significant opposition from a broad coalition of Duke City residents and business owners, construction on the project got underway yesterday.

It was a bitter pill for ART opponents to swallow. But however nasty and personal the dispute has gotten, the saddest thing about the mayor’s transit “vision” is the distraction it’s been from Albuquerque’s core problems. Economic development is a good place to start. In April 2008, there were 398,600 jobs in the city. As of June, there were 385,900. That’s right: No gain, in more than eight years.

Quality-of-life issues are another concern. There’s a lot to like about Albuquerque, but the city has more than its share of violence, property crimes, panhandling, and graffiti. A snazzy new transit system won’t do much, if anything, to improve public safety and livability.

Regardless of where the ART story goes from here, let’s hope that city officials can redirect their energy toward making Albuquerque the growing, dynamic, forward-thinking, and safe place we all want it to be.

For a full exploration of the project’s failings, here’s the Foundation’s ART study from last year. And this op-ed explains why the legal case against ART — far from settled yet — is strong.