BB Readers Ask: Should I Hate Albuquerque Rapid Transit Now?

By Scot Key

Admittedly, no Better Burque reader has directly asked me, or anyone I know, if they should hate ART now. For one thing, folks are capable of determining their own opinion, particularly on this issue, without asking Better Burque for advice.

nightHAWKPhoto: John Fleck

I invent the question this morning based on where we are, or are not, regarding the project, and disregarding those folks who have been against it since Day One. This “Day One” crowd is not exclusively limited to those who generally feel all transportation problems can simply be solved by widening roads, making more roads, making it easier to drive faster (responsibly) on roads and other car-centric cultural touchstones.

This segment of the “Day One” crowd simply can’t understand why anybody would ever want to ride a bus, or any form of non-motorized or mass transit transportation, other than a plane to get somewhere it takes too damn long to drive, and that there must be something wrong with people who would do so, and the existence of these people who would is a great example of all that is wrong with this country.

Perhaps you know one or two folks in this segment of the “Day One” crowd. I am NOT talking about them. (apologies, as a previous version of this sentence said “I AM talking about them…apologies again).

I’m also not talking about the other segment of the “Day One” crowd, those who have opposed the project from its inception due to concerns about a range of things, including, but not limited to:

  • Short/mid-term business impacts
  • Look and historical importance of the Route 66, the “Mother Road”
  • Somewhat/largely replicating the ART route over what are already the most popular bus routes in the city
  • It must be a bad idea because it came from Mayor Berry, and he’s a (insert word of choice here, e.g., “Republican”), so I don’t like it

IMG_3440

No, in my overly long-winded way, I am this morning addressing those folks who are somewhat to hugely in favor of non-car-centric transportation solutions, and who have somewhat to hugely been in favor of ART for that and other reasons, including that they would love to ride these buses and think it best for the city to have more and more other residents do exactly that.

These are the people about which I have today invented the question: Should I hate Albuquerque Rapid Transit Now?

To save us all some time this morning, here’s my answer: No.

Thanks for asking.

No, you (invented person) should not now hate Albuquerque Rapid Transit. I know the last few weeks have been tough on your resolve. I know you’re at the very least thinking that maybe the Berry Administration, ABQ Ride, and others rolling this baby out could have done a shit-ton better job of rolling this baby out.

I also know that news stories about the buses themselves being delayed and inadequate in their first iteration, stories that could, and should, have been written back in October when these problems first came to the City’s attention, have you, invented person, possibly wobbling in your support for the project.

Let me sum up what I, rather arrogantly, feel you should think in this regard this morning, dear invented person with imaginary question:

Blame people, not the project.

I’m not naming the people to blame, as I don’t know enough to parse out whom among those rolling this out dropped the ball more than those caught holding the ball, so to speak. What does look quite apparent, however, is that part of the delay/problem is a natural, and not necessarily negative in the long-run, result of picking a newish technology (electric bus) in its early iterations of development, and that another part of the problem is that some of the humans making that choice of a new technology and implementing it here weren’t terribly sharp in doing so.

art2

Streetsblog USA has a helpful story from a national perspective on this local problem, one that might generally be summed up as stating that hiccups such as this are a very natural, and inevitable, aspect of crafting and implementing something on the scale of Albuquerque Rapid Transit. And that context and perspective is very helpful in getting past all the years of local “Day One” vitriol and angst regarding the project.

Still, it would be a tad simple to answer your question, imaginary person asking if they should hate ART now, by saying “It will be fine; Get over it!” Yet, ultimately, is that the “right” answer about the project in these dark days of possible wavering in support, even by those who LOVE the idea of ART? Yes.

It will be fine; get over it.

But bluntly answering thus without also using this experience as a guide in how to better introduce and implement such large scale solutions to public problems would be a mistake. Let’s learn from this experience without killing this and any other idea that comes along which helps us move from an antiquated car-centric world to one that reflects a post-car-centric reality and future.

And yes, this answer really can be boiled down to a form of the simplistic “don’t throw the baby…,” proving, once again, that 3,000 word blog posts really can be summed up in tweets and/or proverbs. Sorry it took so long to answer your question, imaginary person.

Again, thanks for asking.

 

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