ABQ RIDE hosted an "Open Bus" for the Albuquerque Rapid Transit bus system on Wednesday, as ART's Nov. 30 launch date nears.
On the corner of Cornell Drive and Central Avenue, the event encouraged students and passersby to familiarize themselves with the controversial city transit project.
"A few months ago, when we were looking at establishing service sometime during the winter before the end of the year, we wanted to bring the bus to folks so that they would familiarize themselves," ABQ RIDE Public Information Officer Rick De Reyes told the Daily Lobo.
The ART bus lines — which Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller previously called a "lemon" — run from Unser Boulevard on the west side of the city to Tramway Boulevard near the foothills of the Sandia Mountains on the east side of town. The transit line is set to run buses seven to eight minutes apart from stations placed a half-mile apart, according to the City of Albuquerque.
According to the mayor’s office, the ART buses will be free from their start date on Nov. 30 until the end of the year.
Students, staff and faculty with a UNM bus pass can also ride ART for free, along with other ABQ RIDE buses. Student bus pass stickers can be picked up from the Transportation Information Center (TIC) in the Student Union Building, UNM Hospital Parking and Transportation at 1129 University Blvd. behind Carrie Tingley Hospital and the UNM Parking and Transportation office at the Cornell parking structure on Redondo Drive just north of George Pearl Hall.
"I always see students get on (the bus) and just flash their ID. So it’s just that easy for UNM and CNM student(s) to get on and take the bus for free wherever the system goes," De Reyes said. "It’s something that UNM pays for."
The $135 million bus system was originally scheduled to start running in 2017. However, a number of problems delayed the launch for nearly two years.
One such problem was the buses themselves. Under former Mayor Richard Berry, the city rejected 15 electric buses, citing problems with their design. Eventually, new diesel buses were purchased, with no announced plans for electric ones. Those buses, now a near-daily sight on Central Avenue, were the ones on display Wednesday.
Justin Garcia is the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Just516garc