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Monday, November 24, 2008
Bus Ridership Not Falling Like Gas Prices
By Lloyd Jojola
Journal Staff Writer
Gas prices might be dropping like tom turkeys before Thursday, but ABQ Ride still posted a year-over-year increase in October ridership, and November is trending similarly.
"We're kind of seeing in November what we had happen in October. It's not going over a million, but it's not dropping off the way gas prices are dropping off," city Transit Director Greg Payne said.
ABQ Ride reported 908,988 passenger boardings in October, an 8 percent increase compared with October 2007, when gasoline was more expensive.
While ridership drops off somewhat with colder weather, lower gas prices have had an impact, as well, Payne said.
"I think what we're seeing is, yeah, some people go back to driving, but we have some people who are used to taking the bus and are sticking with it even as the prices continue to plummet."
The higher gas prices that existed gave the agency a chance to sell the system to new or more infrequent users.
Payne said ABQ Ride is trying to keep those passengers, such as by revising its fares, concentrating service in particular areas like commuter routes, and by introducing technology such as its online trip planning service.
He said three new bus shelters for the Rapid Ride Blue Line are being built at University of New Mexico Hospital, the Downtown courthouse area and Old Town.