Albuquerque Bus Fare Changes

January 26th, 2023 | by RON BELL

Albuquerque Bus Fare Changes

A new 2023 ordinance is expected to go into effect in Albuquerque, NM, revising the ‘Zero Fares Pilot Program’ on city buses due to safety concerns. City Councilors have been meeting and revising the proposal to scale back the program for a few months now, and the decision is expected to come soon.

The Zero Fares Pilot Program

Implemented on January 1st, 2022, the program no longer required passengers to pay a ride fare when getting on a city bus. Public transit agencies such as ART, ABQ RIDE, and Sun Van were all a part of making the program successful. The overall idea was to guarantee public transit was accessible to anyone who needed it.

The program was expected to boost ridership, reduce traffic, and have a positive environmental impact, while helping to ensure all Albuquerque residents had a means of transportation to get to work, school, and other places they needed to go. The city also hoped residents would get more involved in all of its community events, as there was an easier way to get to and from each event with the program.

The chance of a car wreck occurring decreases when there are fewer vehicles on the road, which made the bus fare program even more beneficial. However, certain other possibilities of personal injury arose as time went on, creating an unsafe environment for some of the individuals riding the busses.

The Reason for Change

The program was put into effect but was required to be monitored and researched throughout 2022, with a decision planned for the end of the year to determine whether it would continue or not. After the program was implemented, the participating transit agencies were instructed to collect and track data on ridership, security, cost, and feedback from riders.

It was found that prior to the implementation of the program, the city’s transit system averaged around 450 calls per month for service. In 2022, after the program was implemented, it averaged around 606 calls per month, almost a 35% increase.

Conclusions drawn from the data on the success and failures of the program are somewhat skewed based on what side of the argument the person reporting is on. With riders now able to get on and off the bus whenever they wanted and no records kept of passengers, the chance of crime and personal injury started to rise. However, with ridership also increasing, it is not certain that the increase in crime is associated with the program. Although most people who used the transit system were using it in the appropriate way, data shows that some passengers began creating an unsafe environment for all of the other riders.

Increased instances of drug use, verbal and physical abuse to drivers and passengers, and unhygienic conditions were just a few of the concerns that were reported after the implementation of the program. With no records of any riders that could be used in investigations of disturbances, prosecuting wrongdoers became burdensome.

Yes, with more people riding the busses than driving, resulting in less cars on the road, the chance of car wrecks went down. However, as a rider on the bus, when more people started using the transit system, the chance of becoming a victim of a personal injury while on the bus increased. Some of the previously referenced unhygienic conditions on the busses included spills and dangerous objects being left behind, which created a higher chance of slip and falls and other general personal injuries (GPIs) for riders.

The Proposed Change

In October of 2022, two of Albuquerque’s city councilors rode on one of the busses that were a part of the public transit system and decided it was time for a change. The creation of a modified, but still mostly free for users, plan was proposed in hopes of resolving some of the many issues that had arisen since the initiation of the program. Many residents and city officials agree that there needs to be a change, but there are also many who don’t.

The proposed change to the Zero Fares Pilot Program would require riders to either have a Bus Pass, government-issued ID, or pay $1. All riders will be able to apply for the pass, which is expected to be free and usable for up to 36 months before needing to be renewed.

With the use of a pass program, there are tracking systems, infrastructure, and staff hours that would come at a cost. There isn’t necessarily an answer right now as to how those will be paid for, but there is expected to be a decision on the proposal soon, with City Councilors meeting to discuss further throughout the beginning of the year.

Zero-Fare or Pass System?

There are pros and cons to both arguments. If the Pass System is implemented and passengers don’t want to go through the trouble to get a pass or pay the $1, then the amount of people driving on our roadways will rise, resulting in an increased chance of an auto accident. If the Zero Fare program continues, the conditions of the busses could continue to deteriorate, resulting in an increased chance of personal injury. It has also been revealed that there is a bus driver shortage for ABQ RIDE, one of the participating transit agencies. Less busses operating could mean either more people getting on the same bus, which could result in unsafe conditions for the riders, or people not being able to ride the bus, being forced to drive, and therefore increasing traffic and the chance of additional car wrecks. There is also always the chance of a bus accident, which can be catastrophic to riders, drivers, and other people on the road.

If you are (or have been) injured in a bus crash, click HERE to learn more.

Regardless of the decision soon to be announced by the City Council, the chance of personal injury will always be present. If you are injured in an auto accident or any other type of personal injury caused by the negligence of another individual, give us a call! Your initial consultation is completely free with no obligation. We are available 24/7 to take your call, will gather additional details about your situation, and determine what we can to do help. Call 898-BELL today.

Our New Mexico injury lawyers of Ron Bell Injury Lawyers are conveniently located at 7309 Indian School Rd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110.



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