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City seeks $80M for ABQ Rapid Transit on Central

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The city of Albuquerque is hoping to secure $80 million in federal funding to build a new “Albuquerque Rapid Transit” bus system that would mostly operate in the middle of Central Avenue from Louisiana to Coors, at least in the initial phase.

Not everyone is onboard, and the public is invited to participate in a question-and-answer forum Sept. 3 that will be moderated by the Albuquerque Journal’s “Road Warrior” columnist and editorial writer D’Val Westphal.

Fielding questions during the forum will be Paul Silverman, principal at Geltmore LLC, a commercial property and management business; and Paul Gessing, president of the Rio Grande Foundation, a free-market, state-based think tank in Albuquerque.

Proponents of the system, to be called ART, say it is a cheaper alternative to a light rail system. It would allow riders to buy tickets before they get on the bus and board more quickly from platforms that are level with the bus floor.

The buses would travel in dedicated lanes with a driver who can trigger traffic signals to reduce delays and allow the buses to operate at speeds nearly twice as fast as conventional buses.

The rapid transit would also stimulate more businesses and investments along the Central Avenue corridor, they maintain.

Opponents of ART say that creating designated bus lanes comes at the expense of reducing lanes for vehicles and bicycles, which would only serve to make heavily congested Central Avenue even more crowded and noisy.

They also have concerns that the raised platforms in the center of the roadway would impact the ability of cars to make left turns. These inconveniences, they predict, would negatively impact businesses along Central Avenue.

Further, they assert, the proposed ART system wouldn’t significantly increase ridership, and the millions of dollars invested in the system would be better spent on buying more traditional buses and establishing more bus routes.