ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – After two years of delays and frustration, the controversial Albuquerque Rapid Transit finally started rolling along Central.
Today, KRQE News 13’s camera caught plenty of drivers and pedestrians still using the bus lane incorrectly and illegally.
It’s a sight many business owners in Nob Hill never thought they would see.
“It’s a little strange. There were so many delays. There were so many problems and getting it set up in the first place. We just thought we’d never see them and lo and behold, there they are,” says Victor Hall, Manager at Empire Board Game Library.
With the hustle and bustle of Small Business Saturday, Mayor Tim Keller says the decision to launch the ART today was a way to, hopefully, make up for the loss of revenue during the construction.
“The idea of launching it on Small Business Saturday and then keeping it free until the New Year, is sort of a way of expressing thank you for your patience,” says Hall.
Today’s launch didn’t phase a lot of drivers and pedestrians, though. In just less than an hour, KRQE News 13’s camera caught about ten cars and ten groups of people using the bus lane as an illegal turn lane, a crosswalk, or a place to wait as traffic goes by.
There was even a close call when a truck was in the bus lane as an ART bus was trying to move through. Today, Mayor Keller acknowledged the impatient drivers and pedestrians.
“We just don’t want people getting hit. So, whether you like the project, don’t like the project, it’s not worth it,” says Mayor Keller.
While the project has been heavily criticized for the last two years, so far, many riders are taking a liking to the new changes along Central. “I live off Coors and Central, so I just park up there and then take a ride on the ART,” says John Donahoe.
Rides will be free until the end of the year. That’s also when police will start citing drivers for using the bus lanes with fines starting at $80.
Buses will run until 11 p.m. Saturday and start back up again at 6:15 Sunday morning.