Albuquerque, supposed birthplace of lowriders, is a city pimped out on four wheels. Throughout the so-called “Duke City,” sprawl is spreading faster than sub-prime foreclosures, and sidewalks are never smooth (they’re built with driveways—not pedestrians—in mind, which is maddening to residents who actually walk; take my word).
In spite of Albuquerque’s low-riding love affair, the city is trying to step up its public transit. It’s introduced D-RIDE, a free bus service that travels a popular circuit through the downtown area. The problem? D-RIDE covers all of six city blocks—which, by my standards, are short and totally walkable. (Planners might be wise to improve transportation throughout the city, instead of investing in a tiny and unnecessary upgrade. Then again, some free transit is better than none.) The D-RIDE also connects to the downtown transit center, where commuters can hop aboard after a ride on the new Rail Runner train.
Better than the D-RIDE is Albuquerque’s move to let students ride all of the city’s public transit for free. The system’s Rapid Ride features eco-friendly buses that run an 11-mile route along the city’s Central Avenue, with stops nearby both of the local universities.
From the city’s web site:
Any currently enrolled student can take part in the Ride Pass program regardless of course load or credit hours. If faculty/ staff members are valid students, they qualify for the sticker, otherwise faculty/ staff can continue to buy monthly passes at the reduced rate of $20.
Students can slap a bus sticker on their student ID and ride for free throughout the school year.
Albuquerque transit has introduced these free features as part of a clean air initiative that encourages residents to use the bus or train, walk, bike, or carpool to get around. The metro transit system has replaced its entire fleet of buses with new, diesel electric hybrid models– the single largest bus purchase in the city’s history. Since the changes, bus ridership in the ‘Burque has been steadily on the rise.
Photos via flickr by mulmatsherm.
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