Albuquerque Makes Final Push for Fare-Free Transit

Source: Governing


After more than half a decade of study and debate, Albuquerque may soon eliminate fares on public transit for good.

New Mexico’s biggest city, with a population of 560,000, has been testing and piloting fare-free rides on different parts of its system since 2017. It’s part of a hotly debated trend in public transit, with proponents calling free rides a key step for accessibility and equity in transit systems, and opponents saying it’s a distraction from the things that matter most, like service frequency and reliability.

In Albuquerque, leaders say they’ve determined the benefits of letting people board the bus for free outweigh the costs of eliminating fares. And in a city where the majority of bus riders are low-income people, with no access to a car, even small fares make a difference in people’s ability to get around town.

“We live in a very poor state and our city has a lot of folks that are living on the poverty line,” says Albuquerque City Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn. “[The fare] certainly is a decision-making factor for many of our citizens.”

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