ALBUQUERQUE- Mayor Martin Chávez and ABQ RIDE Director Greg Payne are pleased to announce the expansion of Rapid Ride service that will connect Albuquerque’s West Side to the University of New Mexico. Service is set to begin in July.
“As West Side residents are well aware, getting across the river can be a commuting nightmare,” said Mayor Chávez. “We feel that this new Rapid Ride route directly addresses congestion and gives frustrated drivers another alternative.”
The new route will originate at Coors and Montano. Buses will travel south on Coors, east on I-40, south on Rio Grande and east on Lomas to UNM. The route will encircle UNM, serving both the hospital and main campus. The bus is expected to run approximately every 15 minutes.
“After conducting public meetings in all nine City Council districts and looking at all the possibilities, a west side route that also enhances service in our core area is the best possible way to expand Rapid Ride at this time,” said ABQ RIDE Director Greg Payne. “Rapid Ride is extremely popular already and we will continue to expand Rapid Ride service to other parts of the city.”
The high ridership on Rapid Ride, Route 766, along Central Avenue motivated ABQ RIDE to expand the service. The Transit Department earlier this year purchased six new 60-foot articulated buses with diesel electric hybrid engines, increasing the Rapid Ride fleet from 12 buses to 18. ABQ RIDE staff conducted a total of nine public meetings in February to determine where a new Rapid Ride route should be added.
The new West Side route will connect to Rapid Ride 766 twice – at Old Town and at UNM. In an effort to begin service this summer, the new route will start running without the signature Rapid Ride bus shelters, which are expected to be in place in 2008.
ABQ RIDE started Rapid Ride 766 service along Central Avenue in December of 2004 and it has since become one of the system’s most used routes. Rapid Ride is a faster alternative to traditional local bus service. The buses run more often but stop less frequently – usually only every half-mile to mile – and benefit from traffic signal priority.