Albuquerque, NM

Opinion: The Duke City Is Trying out a Zero-Fare Bus Experiment

Daniella Cressman

It's so expensive to purchase gasoline these days, as many families and workers who commute to and from the office will tell you. Putting food on the table can also be quite a challenge, not to mention covering the minutiae of expenses that crop up along with the rent, such as garbage costs, electricity bills, and the like. For those who pay a mortgage monthly, property taxes can sometimes feel overwhelming.

Honestly, the zero-fare bus program has offered many residents of the city immense relief.

"[Micaela] Chavez had been reliant on the city’s bus system for years. She started using it at age 16 to commute between school and the homeless shelter where she stayed, and the bus remained her only form of transportation until she got a car about six months ago. But when vehicle trouble struck and the now 25-year-old returned to the bus, it was a slightly different experience. Passengers no longer have to pay for rides — which used to cost adults $1 each or $2 for a day pass — under a zero-fare pilot the city launched in January." —Jessica Dyer

Chavez was relieved, because she has three children—a lot of mouths to feed!—and she wasn't sure if she would have been able to afford the fare.

Thankfully, Albuquerque's bus systems will be free until June of 2023.

"Albuquerque is now over six months into the zero-fare experiment the City Council approved last fall. Initially slated to run for a year, officials recently approved funding to keep it going through June 30, 2023. The city budgeted $4.5 million total for the project to backfill the lost revenue. Supporters say they are pleased with the results thus far." —Jessica Dyer

This program has received major support from members of the community at large, but has left a few disgruntled and frustrated bus drivers in its wake: many have resigned thanks to belligerent passengers who are rude and intoxicated.

While I think this is a great idea and should probably continue indefinitely, I also believe that people should only be allowed to board if they are sober and there should be more rules in place to protect the bus drivers and more consequences for those who are rude and belligerent.

The other side of the coin is that bus drivers have a difficult job and might be so exhausted that they could have trouble dealing with even minor annoyances, so they need to be paid more and have some semblance of balance when it comes to how long they are behind the wheel—this would also increase safety for passengers.

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Canadian-American author writing about local politics, personal finance, & dining in Albuquerque.

Albuquerque, NM
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