December 3, 2019

Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) first impression

The Map
Let's get this out there. It's cold tonight, but despite that we ventured out into the cold to check out A.R.T. I've been a vocal proponent of the project though critical of how the project was unrolled and implemented. But today was day one.

So we decided to hop on the nearest stop (Central & University) and head west to Sharky's Tacos. If you've never been, go. Simply the best fish tacos in town.

We waited about 5 minutes and got onto a very crowded bus that happened to be the bus that Councilor Ike Benton and Mayor Keller were riding. We said, "Hi." And rode through downtown without incident, and up to The Bluffs' station (Central & Yucca) on the westside. The tacos were great; the conversation was better. We didn't look at our phones because we'd managed to get caught up while we rode the bus.

After dinner, we got back on the bus, not full so we could sit down. We wrote in our seats as the bus zoomed along east bound this time. After switching from the 766 to the 777 we continued east. The 766 goes east until Louisiana and then turns and heads north to Uptown. The 777 heads east all the way to Tramway. We rode all the way to Tramway for a beer at Tractor Brewing-Four Hills in the shopping center where the bus stops.

We had a beer, watched as a patron let their puppy piss on the floor and then didn't bother to clean it. After our beers, ambled back out to the bus. The bus was scheduled to arrive in about 15 minutes, and it was going to be cold. But in actuality it arrived in about 8 minutes. The driver let us (two) plus another guy get on board while he took a break. It left on time, and we headed back down. It was mostly empty, but warm. We watched as two women got on and asked if the bus went to the Transit Center on the westside so they could get to the shelter. We watched as two people from a Thai restaurant got on with their leftovers. We watched as people got on then got off at the next stop (trying to stay warm was my guess).

The only incident was the driver pulling a little bit too close on one stop and not being able to close the doors right way. After a few tries, he got it and we got back to our stop and I came in to write this post.

It's cold out there and the bus was warm. It's cold out there and we rode fairly far west for tacos then back east for beer. The bus is free (until January) and we never got bogged down (other than a bit of a mishap with one station). We never waited more than 5 minutes for a bus, and the bus was clean and safe. Yes, people in my demographic are not particularly fond of buses. Yes, people in my demographic would prefer to take a train (but we don't have that yet) or hop in an Uber or Lyft. Yes, we have our own car, but the bus was damn convenient. It also offered a refuge for people who were trying to get out of the cold. Personally, I'd like to see it remain free for a bit longer (through winter), and I'd like to see what happens when students come back for Spring term. The bus was damn easy to navigate.

For the record, I've been riding the bus when I see shows downtown and quite often I am waiting for 20 minutes plus until it arrives. The reason? Simple, the bus gets caught in traffic and over a long day gets behind. I, also, quite often have to get a Lyft home cause I'm getting out after the last bus. And admittedly, I really love public transit.

They may not keep this frequency, but if you want to head downtown or to west Central or to Nob Hill or Coronado or the International District (Thai Food!) it might be easier than driving. And if you're afraid of riding the bus because it smells or the clinetele is a bit sketchy, let me know. I'll gladly pull up a seat next to you and head east or west. I'm going to do my part to make lemonade out of lemons.

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