ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – The vibrant lights shining at the 16 new canopied Albuquerque Rapid Transit stations along Central Avenue are a bright, constant advertisement for a bus system that still doesn’t work and one that is behind schedule. All the same, the city says the lights were part of the ART plan to help reduce crime.
“There’s really no use to them being on if the buses aren’t running,” said Selena Richardson of Albuquerque. “It gives the impression that the buses are running. I have coworkers who couldn’t get home last night because they thought the buses ran at midnight and they don’t.”
Some agree it’s a stark reminder of all the things that have gone wrong with the project, including the fact half of the buses haven’t been delivered and that there is ongoing construction at the stations more than a month after buses were supposed to start rolling.
ART spokesperson Joanie Griffin said the so-called “light shows” are part of the general contractor’s required testing of the stations.
“The cost for the whole thing is part of the construction budget, so it’s not costing additional taxpayer dollars,” she said.
She added the flickering will stop at the end of next week, then people will only see the white lights until the ART starts, which could be months from now.
The city said the lights will stay on for added pedestrian safety and to keep the troublemakers out.
“Crime doesn’t like a spotlight,” Griffin stated. “If you’re going to do something criminal, you’re probably not going to stand in the middle of Central Avenue with bright lights on and traffic passing you on both sides.”
The lights may be a nuisance for some, but some Nob Hill businesses say they love them because they provide more security.
“I’ve actually physically caught people trying to deface our mural and I caught a woman trying to break our window once,” Astro Zombies Comics Manager Chris Losack said.
“There’s a lot of homeless in this area or coming to this area and it prevents them from staying up there and sleeping up there and what not,” Nob Hill Bar and Grill Owner Nicole Kapnison added.
The lights are programmable so the city is able to change them up at any time. One example Griffin gave was to make them red and silver for Lobo home games.