ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A new proposed ordinance could make free bus rides in Albuquerque permanent. City Council members Tammy Fiebelkorn, Pat Davis, and Klarissa Peña are introducing an ordinance that would change the Zero-Fare Pilot Program into a lasting public transit service. 

Councilor Fiebelkorn said the pilot program collected data over the past year that proves having free transit is necessary. 

“I’m just really thrilled that we’re finally at this point where we have all the data that we need. We know what we need to do to move forward to get free fares, zero fares, in place for Albuquerque residents,” said Councilor Fiebelkorn. 

According to the bill, the pilot program focused on three key points of the Zero-Fare Program including operational expenses, ridership demographics, and security and cleanliness. It found that 88% of riders had household incomes less than $35,000 per year and 89% of riders didn’t have cars or access to other transportation. The bill said permanent free fare would also alleviate stress on non-profits who buy passes for low-income customers. 

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According to the report, the cost of reinstituting fares or implementing a pass system would be about $1.8 million, which is about 3% of the transit department’s budget. Fiebelkorn said that the cost may be higher than the revenue the city would make from bus fares.  

“When you look at it just from the financial point of view, it makes a lot of sense to make sure that this is a service that’s provided for citizens for free,” stated Councilor Fiebelkorn. 

When the pilot program first came about, some expressed concerns about how it would impact crime on city buses. However, the report found that there was no relation between free fares and an increase in crime. Councilor Fiebelkorn said it’s important to not attribute free fare with crime around the city. 

“Stop fear-mongering, look at the data, and understand that free fares does one thing. It gets people where they want and need to go within their city,” said Councilor Fiebelkorn. 

The ordinance will be introduced to City Council on Monday. It will officially be heard for a vote in November.