According to a report, ridership on New Mexico’s commuter rail line as well as the Albuquerque bus system continued to erode last year, dropping 3%, according to the latest figures. The main bus systems in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe saw declining ridership in the last fiscal year.
The municipal bus systems in Albuquerque and Santa Fe each reported a 5% drop in riders in the 2019 fiscal year, which ended in June. Las Cruces reported a 3% decline.
In Albuquerque, construction along Central Avenue of the disastrous ART Bus project contributed to the decline in bus ridership. Albuquerque has completed the building of the canopy designed bus rapid transit line platforms along the 9 mile route of Route 66 in the middle of central along with the dedicated bus lanes .
The ART Bus route has gone virtually unused for well over 2 years after its dedication because the city is still waiting on delivery of the “new” buses. City Bus drivers are being trained with the delivery of one bus, while the city tries to educate the public on the proper traffic restrictions along central. Mayor Tim Keller expects full service to begin in the winter.
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THE BENTON-GIBSON EXPERTISE ON MASS TRANSIT
Albuquerque City Councilor Diane Gibson is chairwoman of the agency that operates the Rail Runner. Her brilliance was on full display when she said people who live in New Mexico and the West are already inclined to drive their owns cars, and low gas prices provide extra encouragement saying:
“Our mindset is to buy a car, have our own personal space in a car, and that’s pretty much how we live our lives. … Once we get out of the habit of taking the Rail Runner or the bus to work or school, it’s more difficult to go back and change our habits.”
The brilliance of Albuquerque City Councilor Isaac Benton was also on full display in the news report when he said he expects transit ridership in New Mexico to recover in the long run, especially as more young people opt to use ride-booking services rather than get their own driver’s license. Benton also said low gas prices, are “without question” a factor in the short-term ridership trends and added:
“Transit has been a tough sell in New Mexico because we’re a fairly low-density state with a lot of highways … but with regard to the generational change, I am optimistic for the future.”
City Councilor Diane Gibson represents District 7, Albuquerque’s mid-heights including uptown and parts of the near northeast heights. Gibson was first elected to the Albuquerque City Council in 2013 and was again elected to the Council in 2017 for a second 4-year term. Councilor Gibson was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. Gibson moved to New Mexico in 1975 and retired from Sandia National Laboratory in 2008 where she began her career as a prototype machinist. The eleven years before retiring Councilor Gibson worked as an Environment, Safety, Security and Health coordinator dealing with workplace safety issues. You can read more about Diane Gibson here:
Isaac (Ike) Benton is the District 2 Albuquerque City Councilor. City Council District 2 is the city-center district encompassing downtown, old town, parts of the University of New Mexico and the entire valley east of the river. He was elected to the City Council in October 2005. Councilor Benton came to Albuquerque in 1976 as a VISTA volunteer at UNM’s Design and Planning Assistance Center. Benton is a licensed New Mexico architect and building contractor. Between 1991 and 2009, he operated his own architecture practice with a focus on libraries, senior and community centers, schools, and housing, always using sustainable design and public participation in the design process. Benton is now retired and avowed urbanist. Benton’s city council district includes a large area of downtown Central and the North Valley which leans left and is heavily Hispanic.
You can read more about Isaac Benton here:
Benton ran unopposed in 2015 and is seeking another term on the City Council. Democrat (D) Isaac Benton has 5 opponents: Steve Baca (D), Joseph Griego (D), Robert Raymond Blanquera Nelson (Unknown), Zack Quintero, (D) and Connie Vigil, an Independent.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
When you review the credentials or job experience of Isaac Benton and Diane Gibson, you get a clear understanding of how little they actually know about mass transportation, which is negligible at best. Gibson especially has a zero understanding of statewide mass transportation issues, let alone a city bus system, yet she is the chairwoman of the agency that operates the Rail Runner. Go figure.
City Councilors Benton and Gibson voted repeatedly for the disastrous ART Bus project that has destroyed the character of Route 66. Both refused to advocate to put the ART Bus project on the ballot for public approval. Benton and Gibson voted to spend federal grant money that had yet to be appropriated by congress.
The ART Bus project has been a total disaster resulting the destruction of the character of Route 66. ART has had a negative impact on Central resulting in several businesses going out of business. Many central businesses and Nob Hill businesses no longer exist because of the ART Bus Project.
Gibson did not attend a single public meeting that was sponsored by the former Republican administration to listen to constituent’s complaints on the project. Gibson instead voted repeatedly for and supported Mayor Berry’s ART Bus project and funding. Gibson said to a neighborhood association meeting she “was tired of carrying the Mayor’s water” on the project, yet she refused to advocate to put ART on the ballot for public approval, saying it was the Mayor’s project.
Isaac Benton is given credit for attending one public meeting that was sponsored by the former Republican administration to listen to constituent’s complaints on the ART Bus project. The problem is he got into a very public and very nasty confrontation and shouting match with a constituent where Benton defended the ART Bus project. Benton had to be separated, but only after photo’s and video were taken.
Both Benton and Gibson voted to use $13 million dollars in revenue bonds to pay for the ART Bus project. The revenue bonds were not voted upon by the public. The Albuquerque City Council that Gibson and Benton were part of also borrowed over $63 million dollars over a two-year period to build pickle ball courts, baseball fields and the ART bus project down central by bypassing the voters. The $65 million dollars was borrowed with the Albuquerque City Councilors voting to use revenue bonds as the financing mechanism to pay for big capital projects.
The only true benefit to City Councilors Benton and Gibson commenting on New Mexico and Albuquerque mass transportation issues and the agency that operates the Rail Runner is that their full ignorance was on display for all voters to see. With any real luck, at least Benton will be off the city council come the November election.
You can read more blog articles on ART at the below link: