The City of Albuquerque is seriously considering a bus rapid transit (BRT) system on Central (and possibly in other corridors of the City). And, while we have a general idea of the total costs of construction ($85 million picked up by the City with $340 million picked up by federal taxpayers), we have no idea what the system would cost to maintain, nor do we have any idea whether the proposed investment is needed or how dedicating a lane of traffic along Central to just buses would impact other users (motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians). Nor do we know exactly how much the proposed project would reduce in terms of commute times along Central.
While the Mayor is certainly correct in advocating less-expensive BRT over the light rail plan of his predecessor, that doesn’t mean BRT is needed or that it will have a net-positive impact on congestion (or economic development) along Central. As transportation analyst Randal O’Toole (generally a supporter of BRT) notes, “Unless the BRT line carries more new transit riders than the vehicles that once used the transformed lane, the resulting loss of roadway capacity leads to increased congestion.”
It is not as if the City of Albuquerque or Washington have money burning a hole in their pockets. As one recent commenter noted, there have been several security incidents on buses around town recently, “Sorry, Mr. Mayor, but the ‘next logical step in public transportation’ is a massive increase in public safety onboard the existing busses — more cops and fewer drug addicts and mentally ill who currently make riding the Rapid Bus along Central a non-starter for most citizens.”
As usual, we’ll keep an eye on things and weigh in as details emerge and the process moved along. At this point there are many questions left unanswered.