By Luis Guerrero, Legislative and Political Organizer
On May 16, the Albuquerque City Council voted 7-2 (with councilors Grout and Lewis opposed) on a budget that includes $1.5 million to keep city public transit free through June 2023.
Even the councilors who were initially hesitant in their support of the program, called Zero Fares, did not alter it in any of the amendments.
Many groups and passionate individuals, including members of our Rio Grande Chapter Central New Mexico Group, called, emailed and spoke with their Councilors and Mayor Tim Keller to ensure this program stayed in the budget.
The program reduces the use of single-passenger vehicles and makes it easier and less costly for Albuqureque residents to get to school, work and other destinations. The Zero Fares program is about equity (people most impacted getting what they need) and racial justice (addressing historic injustice and disparities based on ethnicity and race) solutions.
NM Voices for Children reports that area nonprofits and other organizations could save as much as $1.6 million over the next three fiscal years that previously went to purchasing bus passes.
These savings may now be reinvested into client services.
Zero Fares has a profound positive impact on the health and wellbeing of people in Albuquerque. Until the pilot program began in January, fares were the greatest barrier for Burqueños to ride the bus. Funding Zero Fares removed this barrier, so all Albuquerque residents have reliable, no-cost transportation connecting them to school, work, recreation, healthcare and food sources.
Featured image from the City of Albuquerque