The long-anticipated end to construction on Central Ave. is finally in sight.
From the West Side to the BioPark, the Albuquerque Rapid Transit system is up and running — the rest of the ART corridor is being used for bus drivers to practice the new system.
The $126 million project started May 2016 and is projected to be complete by the end of 2017.
With a new transportation service comes new road rules drivers need to be aware of.
Some new rules include: changes to where drivers can make a left turn and preventing drivers from using in the Bus Only lane.
If a driver is pulled over while driving in the Bus Only lane, a ticket can be issued — this applies to any driver who is involved in an accident with an ART bus in the Bus Only lane.
To remind drivers to stay out of the Bus Only lane, there are rumble strips, “Bus Only” decals and a double white line that a driver is prohibited from crossing at all times.
To ease the transition of ART, ABQ Ride+ was launched — it is an app designed for passengers to use while riding ART.
Joanie Griffin, the CEO of Griffin & Associates, the marketing, advertising and public relations firm that promotes ART, said in a new release that the app helps riders plan trips, buy tickets online and promotes local businesses and attractions located along the ART corridor on Central Ave. The goal is to help the community “rediscover Central.”
Despite the initial protests of ART, it has become the first-ever U.S. bus rapid transit system to be awarded the Gold Standard from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, according to Griffin’s press release.
In a statement from Griffin, she said some of the criteria include having dedicated right-of-ways, platform level boarding, minimized bus emissions and efficient access and integration.
Out of 100 possible points, ART received 88.5 — surpassing Cleveland’s Health Line, which earned 76 points.
Some Albuquerque residents still have reservations about the new transit system.
Jackie Wolf, a long-time Albuquerque resident, said she believes ART is a “huge waste” of city funds and taxpayer money.
A University of New Mexico fourth year computer science major, Brandon Wade, compared the new transportation system to his time in New York and their effective transit options and said he sees the similarities between those and ART.
“It’s pretty much similar I guess, so for people who don’t have vehicles it might be good, but then again the traffic might be crazy,” he said. “I guess the results (will tell) honestly, just wait and see.”
Madison Spratto is a news editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Madi_Spratto.