Remember this one thing: ART is just a bus.
Remember that as Mayor Keller and others try to trick you into believing that ART is something so different and special that it will immediately transform Central Avenue—and the entire city—into a thriving, safe and happy wonderland of happy people doing happy things.
They’ve already had an open house for the system so people can gaze in wide-eyed wonderment at a ... bus.
That’s right, they want you to get giddy over a few buses and tiny bus platforms that look like toys.
ART isn’t a big commuter choo choo train like the failing Rail Runner Express, nor is it a heavy rail, subway train. It’s not even light rail—things that can evoke a fleeting sense of wonderment. It’s a bus!
I realize that in backwater places like Albuquerque a simple and basic commuter bus can get some people thinking that they’ve just seen the greatest technology ever, but remember, it’s just a bus.
If ART was light rail, or a heavy rail system, that would be different, but it’s just a bus. And not even a fancy bus. It’s a longer bus with more doors than a regular bus.
I know buses and subways. I rode them for 32 years in the city of Chicago. And every time I go back to my hometown I spend my days riding buses and subways.
Because they work and get hundreds of thousands of people around every day in a huge and complex city. They efficiently get people where they need to go. Buses run every 12 minutes or so, and subway trains every eight minutes or so during the rush hour.
Compare that to Albuquerque where you have to wait and wait and wait for s bus.
I like buses and subways, but they’re not luxurious like ART advocates are trying to convince us they are. During rush hour they’re more like cattle cars with almost as many people standing as sitting. There are crazies and addicts and smelly bums on them, and they're not as warm in the winter or cool in the summer as they should be. But they get people where they need to go, and they get them there quickly.
And remember what I’ve been saying for years. ART is not about getting people to where they need to go and getting them there quickly. ART is an attempted real estate redevelopment project supported by the NAIOP crowd. And it was a scheme by the former failure of a mayor to throw taxpayers’ money at his construction and development company pals. They could give two-shits if you can’t get somewhere quickly in a bus here.
As I’ve written recently, bus ridership in Albuquerque is down 31 percent since 2012. And a measly 1.7 percent if working-age people here use public transit to get to and from work.
Because the system doesn’t work.
The former mayor and his pals spent $136 million of your money on buses with doors on both sides, and on toy bus stations.
ART is a joke, but it’s also just a bus. Remember that.