Special Series: Alternative Transportation

By: Stefany Olivas, Managing Editor | Photos By: Stefany Olivas, Managing Editor

ABQ City Bus System

“Alternative Transportation” is a special fall term series that looks at various means of transportation. Look for “Walking” in issue six.

Chemical Engineering major Ben Chesebrough said he commutes on the bus four days a week from Rio Rancho to Main campus because it is more time effi­cient and saves him money.

It takes 45 to 50 minutes every day to get to campus, but he spends that time studying and saves $8 a day — and he said neither would be the case if he was driving.

“It’s a really great money saver. If you add up four days a week for the entire semester at eight dol­lars a day that’s quite a bit of change,” said Chesebrough.

His schedule varies throughout the week; leav­ing at 6:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and going home anywhere from 3:30 p.m. to as late as 8:30 p.m., he said.

He said he owns a car, but chooses to ride the bus because the time it would take to drive adds up to the same as riding the bus.

“It would take me that long to drive then try to find parking. So the bus is a really good option for me,” said Chesebrough.

During his time riding the bus he was never late for class and has never missed a class because of the bus, he said.

“There’s pretty much no downside to it. They have ways to getting around the traffic. I would definitely recommend it to anyone,” said Chesebrough.

ABQ Ride Public Information Officer Rick De Reyes said with the many modes of alternative transportation, the price is right for students — a free bus pass, and discounted passes for the train.

“As more CNM students ride and see how convenient it is, they’ll not only come to appreciate it, they’ll become advocates for it,” said De Reyes.

Director of Transit Bruce Rizzieri said transi­tioning to public transpor­tation can seem difficult for some people because it is a change of routine, but once people are used to the routes and scheduling, using public transportation gets much easier.

“It’s a change from what they’re used to, especially if you’ve been used to just walking out and getting in your vehicle,” said Rizzieri.

Future plans in the evaluation stage include a Bus Rapid Transit, which would provide more timely transit service, said Rizzieri.

Ideas proposed have included getting buses their own dedicated lanes and even allowing signals to sense when the bus is approaching to stay green longer, he said.

Public meetings about these proposals will be held later in the year. To find the meeting schedule, visit cabq.gov for updates.

De Reyes said that it used to be that bus rider­ship would only increase when gas prices rose. There has been a steady increase in ridership for at least the past six years, despite the many times the gas prices decreased, he said.

“It’s still continued to go up. No matter how much gas prices have spiked or went down, we’re still at that seven percent increase. Maybe people here are dis­covering more benefits,” said De Reyes.

Rizzieri said another reason that gas prices have contributed to an increased ridership is that in the past, people have been able to adjust for fluctuations at low prices. Now that prices are high across the board, it simply falls out of their budget range.

“I think we’ve reached a point now where gas prices are just to high for a lot of people too budget, and there’s not much more they can give up in order to pay for gas for a vehicle,” said Rizzireri.

He said that riding the bus also provides many economic benefits, even on a national level; ridership reduces wear and tear on the roads and decreases the amount of oil needed overall.

“You can have 40 people on the bus or 40 people in individual cars,” said Rizzieri.

“Full buses carrying so many people so many miles is more economical than if you put the same number of people driving in their own vehicles. You need less imports of oil.”

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