The latest ridership numbers are out for the Rail Runner and the numbers look terrible. According to the Albuquerque Journal, ridership dropped an astonishing 11 percent over the past year. Worse, that number has plummeted by 40 percent since its peak. See the charts below:
Operators blame low gas prices and the bad economy, two interrelated issues that could be blamed for just about everything happening in New Mexico these days. The reality is that new transit projects almost always over-promise and under-deliver (a refrain all-too-common in government generally)
Worse, low ridership is only going to mean greater hemorrhaging of taxpayer dollars on every trip as trains continue to run (costing the same amount, but fare-box collections decline). Obviously, Bill Richardson is the first person to blame, but with taxpayers in the Albuquerque Metro still smarting from one mass-transit boondoggle, why is Mayor Berry pushing a second boondoggle-in-the-making known as Albuquerque Rapid Transit?
Is Mayor Berry really trying to emulate Bill Richardson?