Its federal funding is in doubt, the “loan program” promised to business owners suffering from its construction is a bust, and drivers are incensed over the congestion it’s creating. But yes, there’s more bad news for “Albuquerque Rapid Transit.”
The invaluable transportation scholar Randal O’Toole notes that in 2016, despite all the nonsense about Millennials preferring urban living and eschewing driving, overall “transit” ridership in the U.S. fell. Bus usage, most relevant to the ART debate, dropped by 4.1 percent.
Interestingly, the data O’Toole cites — compiled by the American Public Transportation Association — do not include the latest ridership numbers from the City of Albuquerque Transit Department. Not only are the figures from the final quarter of 2016 nonexistent, the data for the third quarter are AWOL as well. Curious. (Errors of Enchantment has asked the city about the missing stats. We’ll update this post if we get a reply, but don’t hold your breath.)
As O’Toole explains, the transit-industrial complex is sure to explain lower ridership on government-run buses and trains by citing cheap gasoline prices and rising incomes. But regardless of the causes, “low-income commuters are buying cars and higher-income travelers are making a choice not to use transit. In the face of these choices, transit agencies that want to spend hundreds of millions or billions on fixed-guideway transit, either rail or dedicated bus lanes, are wasting peoples’ money.”