ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque bus riders could soon have fewer options for getting around town. City councilors are considering a proposal to reduce bus services.
According to a new report, the change would help the city deal with worker shortages. However, bus riders worry about the proposed changes.
“I don’t know what stops they’re proposing to get rid of, but if they go too far, it’s hard to get around on just a wheelchair,” said Mike, a city bus rider.
Mike takes public transit to the University of New Mexico Hospital every week for appointments. He rides Bus Route 790, which travels from the west side to UNM. It’s one of the routes that could be suspended entirely because there aren’t enough riders.
“I’ve been taking the bus now for about three years. It’s been very convenient. Very helpful. They’re really good about helping handicapped people. I hope it doesn’t change,” said Mike.
According to the city, the proposed changes are due to staffing shortages. Right now, a third of driver positions are vacant, which the city said is putting a strain on the drivers they do have. According to the report, recruitment efforts like bumping up the pay, have not attracted enough applicants.
For now, the city is considering scaling back its routes. The plan would affect more than 30 routes, with 16 that could be suspended entirely. Some routes were chosen based on low ridership and whether other routes cover the same area. Those alternatives would be a lot less convenient according to some riders.
“My car was stolen. I’m a student teacher at Albuquerque High School which means that it would be very difficult for me to get to work and to get to take classes at UNM. I would be in trouble. I would not be able to get to work or school from the west side,” said bus rider Shaun Koning.
Some of the routes could also see less frequent trips, including Bus Route 2 on Eubank. It would run every hour instead of every 30 minutes. Route 222, which serves Kirtland Airforce Base, would also be affected. It would travel a shorter route at certain times of the day.
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According to a statement from the Transit Department, the proposal would also save money on fuel and maintenance.