Sunday, June 4, 2023

Public Input Wanted: Redesigning ABQ Ride's Routes

More bus service to Old Town, an extended ART route to the west, and precise transfers at Alvarado floated as part of latest step in network redesign


By Peter Rice, Downtown Albuquerque News


Planners from a consulting firm hired by the city to redesign the bus route network have come up with two concept maps as a way to help residents and bus riders figure out what kind of transit system they want going forward. The "high ridership" concept above features fewer routes but more frequent service, with buses on red line routes coming every 15 minutes or better. The full citywide map is here and the Downtown core detail section is here.


By contrast, this "high coverage" concept is meant to help imagine a system that has more routes and less frequency, with dark blue routes running every 30 minutes and light blue every 60. (That is roughly the way the system tilts now.) The full citywide map is here and the Downtown core detail section is here.

Redesigning ABQ Ride's route network is a massive multi-year effort involving countless focus groups, surveys, and meetings, but it largely boils down to this: Would you rather walk or wait? Behind door number one is a system with frequent service, but the routes are fewer in number so you may well have to walk longer to get to one of the. Behind door number two is a system with more routes and buses that don't come as often, so while you may not have to walk far, you'll probably have to wait longer.


In recent weeks, planners hired by the city to design the new network have produced two maps that illustrate that conundrum (see above). But they stress that they are more of a conversation starter than actual proposals - something to help stimulate feedback by, among other options, taking this survey. A more concrete plan is expected this summer after all that feedback comes in.


In the meantime, the maps are notable as much for their similarities as their wildly different positions on the coverage/frequency spectrum. Both contemplate some radical departures from the way ABQ Ride has been doing business, and many of those changes have particular relevance to the city center, including the following:

  • Less frequent routes would be scheduled to converge on Downtown's Alvarado Transit Center at roughly the same time and then depart a few minutes later. That would make transfers more precise while also turning schedules into a pattern that is easy to memorize. (Today's schedules are often anything but.)

  • In both concepts, Central's number 66 bus is split into two routes that both terminate at Alvarado Transit Center. One route would go west on Central to Unser then up Coors to the Cottonwood Mall area. The other route would go east on Central before dipping down into the International District then heading north on Wyoming.

  • One of the two ART routes extends past Unser, looping south into the Westgate neighborhood, saving residents of that low-income area from having to make a transfer as they must now if they want to get to Downtown or UNM.

  • Rather than using Fifth, Sixth, and I-40 to get to the area around the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Route 8 would instead travel on Lomas to Old Town, then north on Rio Grande before heading to the IPCC, Menaul, and Uptown.

  • Service in Barelas is made more frequent but basically confined to Fourth Street. That is in contrast to today's schedule, which has less frequent routes operating on both Fourth and Eighth before heading to the South Valley.

Details aside, city spokeswoman Megan Holcomb cautions that it's still early in the process: "The routes in each of the two concepts are what made sense when the team was creating them," she said. Still, "throughout this public engagement phase, our team is open to feedback and will take that into consideration when designing the final concept."

The survey will be online through April 10, with public meetings happening on March 15 and 23.


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