ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Wednesday night, Albuquerque City Council once again postponed a controversial proposal that would require bus riders to present passes or IDs to ride for free. This, after councilors have repeatedly pushed back the vote and made revisions to the rules.

The City Council deferred the ordinance that would end the “zero-fare” pilot program and replace it with a pass-based system. Wednesday night, members of the public urged the council not to change the zero-fare model, arguing it would put up barriers for the homeless and other vulnerable community members most in need of free transit.

“We know that they rely on public transportation for legitimate ends and may not have access to the internet or IDs,” said one citizen.

The new model, sponsored by councilors Dan Lewis and Klarissa Peña would bring back the fares for people to ride the bus. But fares would not apply to anyone presenting a valid form of ID, including a driver’s license or state ID, and student, senior, and military IDs. The city would also issue passes to those who applied for them, which would qualify them for free fares.

Opponents say that the requirements will hurt those who may have trouble holding onto proper IDs. Those for it say that the current program has led to a rise in violence on the city’s buses.

But critics argue this proposal is not the answer. “We’ve seen a definite increase of crime on the busses since the gree bus fare went into effect about 25% increase related to our calls to service,” said a member of the public. “I do not believe that zero fares is [sic] the reason we have security issues. I think it’s because we have driver shortages, I think it’s because we need security officers on the buses.”

Supporters argue the pass system will create better accountability and discourage troublemaking on buses. Under the proposed program, riders without a pass or ID will pay $1 per ride, or $2 for a day pass. The current free bus fare program will expire at the end of June 2023.

Councilors are expected to take up the issue again in two weeks. Meanwhile, councilors are still debating a proposal concerning beefing up security on city buses.