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ABQ Bus Ridership Keeps Falling

ABQ Bus Ridership Keeps Falling

In the first two months of this year, bus ridership was down 11 percent from the same period last year.

ABQ Ride Boardings Continue to Drop

While Mayor Richard Berry sinks $126 million into the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project down Central Avenue, he might have to scrounge to find riders for ART because bus ridership in Albuquerque continues to shrink.

In the first two months of this year, bus ridership was down 11 percent from the same period last year. And it was down 25 percent from the same two months in 2012, the year that bus ridership in Albuquerque peaked.

In January and February, ABQ Ride had a total of 1.6 million passenger boardings, according to the Federal Transit Administration. That compared to 1.8 million boardings during the first two months of 2016 and 2.1 million boardings during the first two months of 2012.

Bus ridership in Albuquerque peaked at 13 million boardings in 2012 and has been declining ever since.

Transit officials have said the ridership decline is due to falling and stagnant gasoline prices. The price of oil began to plunge in mid-2014, while bus ridership began falling in 2013.

It’s not clear if the ridership decline so far this year is due to ART construction along Central, which began last October and which business owners say has led to large drops in business. Central Avenue bus routes are the busiest in the city.

Jean Bernstein, owner of the Flying Star restaurants, said she thinks bus ridership is down because of Albuquerque’s stagnant economy. The metro area has yet to regain all the jobs it lost during the recession.

“I think it’s that jobs and people are leaving. A lot of companies have been slowly and quietly cutting their their workforces,” Bernstein said.

Former state representative and city councilor Janice Arnold Jones said the decreased ridership could be the result of crime on the buses

“Is the reason that ridership is down is that people don’t feel safe?” Arnold Jones said. “The second thing is that buses don’t go where people need to go. The growth in jobs is in the north area of town and the bus connections for the north aren’t that good.”

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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