ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Bad behavior on Albuquerque city buses has been a long-time problem. Two city councilors are introducing a bill to crack down on that behavior.
In August, KRQE Investigates revealed just how dangerous city buses can be, particularly for drivers on the Central corridor. “Dangerous and challenging at the same time,” said Lois Painter, an Albuquerque city bus driver for ten years. “They’re dealing drugs. They’re smoking fentanyl. They’re smoking crack. I mean, it’s ongoing issue every single day.”
It’s a reality Albuquerque City Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn said she knows firsthand. “I’ve been a transit rider for the last 20 years here in Albuquerque, and sure enough, there’s always been some security issues,” said Councilor Fiebelkorn.
Now Councilor Fiebelkorn and Councilor Pat Davis are introducing a bill aimed at keeping the free fare program and cracking down on bad bus behavior. “We’ve learned that zero fares are incredibly important for many people in Albuquerque, particularly low-income folks who need to be able to get around our city,” said Councilor Fiebelkorn. “There has not been an increase in incidences because of free fairs, but there’s always been issues.”
The bill would allocate a million dollars to crack down on bad bus behavior. The money would increase transit security personnel and legally label them as ‘peace officers.’
“So, that they have all the legal right to you know, ask folks to move along from the bus stop and the immediate area around the bus stop, which currently they do not have that legal authority,” she said.
It would also allow people who assault them to be charged. The bill also adds disobeying a bus driver, to the definition of disorderly conduct and bans people from hanging around bus stops outside times of operation.
“So, that they have all the legal right to you know, ask folks to move along from the bus stop and the immediate area around the bus stop, which currently they do not have that legal authority,” said Councilor Fiebelkorn.
Painter said she appreciates the effort but is concerned about how the legislation will be implemented. “You don’t have the manpower to deal with them riding the bus to the end of the line and staying on the same bus all day long, multiple trips, we can’t get them off the bus, let alone bus stops,” said Painter. “It’s nice that they’re working on this. I don’t know if it’s the answer to our problems.
The legislation will be introduced into the council on Monday, December 5.