ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A pair of city councilors want to change who can ride the city bus for free. “I know personally I was avoiding the busses due to safety,” said Alivia Caples, a University of New Mexico student.
Caples mentioned she would rather walk because she doesn’t feel safe on city buses. She’s not alone. “Hearing from a lot of constituents who don’t feel safe riding our busses right now. We know that we need to change the program,” said Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis.
A KRQE investigation in August showed many instances of violence and crimes happening on buses. Councilors Dan Lewis and Klarissa Peña believe they know what’s causing the problem. “Clearly the free bus program was contributing to more crime on those bus routes,” said Councilor Lewis.
The two councilors are proposing replacing the zero fares pilot program, which was supposed to last until next year. If passed, passengers would need a bus ride pass to ride for free. People would need an identification card and would have to apply for the pass. “I definitely do think that that would bring more safety to the busses,” said Caples.
If you don’t have a pass, you’ll have to pay $1 to ride. However, some say the plan would leave many in the community without a ride. “It just sounds like another loop to jump through and everything to make it, so less people have less access to public transportation. I don’t think it’ll do anything that helps crime,” said Dylan, another UNM student.
The proposal would also have a “no ride” list for those who have created problems on city buses. “We needed to put some common sense programs back in place, and I think this will do it. I think this meets the needs that people have that want to participate in our bus program,” said Councilor Lewis.
The new passes would be valid for 36 months. If the proposal passes, it would begin in December. The council is set to take final action on the proposal on November 7.