Here’s What is Really Wrong with A.R.T.

Let’s start with a Albuquerque Rapid Transit reference, because any A.R.T. reference gets clicks. Particularly when the word “hate” is included somewhere in the reference. I’ve noticed this.

So here’s why I hate A.R.T.: I get motion sickness on the A.R.T. bus.

I really, really, really want to love A.R.T. and I do love the concept, absolutely, but the intensely winding path A.R.T. lanes take, back and forth and back and forth, shimmying and bouncing all the way from Coors to Louisiana leaves me queasy.

And yes, that queasiness increases when wearing a mask. And you have to, understandably, wear a mask.

So I personally have this nearly $200 million bus service that I love conceptually and get sick over in practice. My guess is that the number of us who share both the conceptual love and motion sickness hate for A.R.T. is darn close to one person. But I do know one other such person and maybe you do, too.

So what if we had a trolley? A street car?

For whatever semicircular canal inner ear reason, I personally do not get motion sickness on trains and anything involving tracks (e.g., subways). Reading the medical literature, it seems the reason for this is that I believe I know where the track-based transport is going (i.e., staying on the tracks). This belief has fortunately proven correct in all personal instances so far, including some really great train trips taken last month in Portugal.

I promise this will be the only Portugal reference in this post.

So, if we had a trolley, aka street car running on rails up and down Central, Scot wouldn’t get sick, and wouldn’t that nearly $200 million make more sense as an expenditure? Well, at least it would if everybody had my semicircular canals and need for belief.

As you may know, ABQ had an electric street car service from 1905 (first horse/mule-driven) to New Year’s Day, 1928. I’ve been passing some quality research nerd time the last few months researching the old streetcar, and it’s fascinating (at least to me). Here’s an obituary of the service recalling its last day of operation:

Mentioned prominently in this story is George Roslington, a British-born economic adventurer who served as actuary in the Klondike during its Gold Rush and followed the rush all the way to Carrizozo, New Mexico, before settling in Albuquerque to do a great many things including operation of the City Electric street car.

I promise there will be much more on Mr. Roslington here at BB in coming weeks. He is most certainly what we call a “character,” and a “piece of work.” For now, I’ll just settle my 2022 stomach contemplating a ride in a street car along Central, mule-driven or electric, hopping off for various errands, such as buying a new bowler hat and getting a quick trim of my Teddy Roosevelt moustache over a root beer (it’s Prohibition in my contemplation, you see).

Notes:

  1. Yes, Mayor Marty and others proposed a street car back in the later 2000s. The term “motion sickness” does not appear in the PowerPoint about the proposal. My strong feeling is that leaving out this powerful argument was principal reason the proposal failed.
  2. Cyclists among us don’t tend to like street cars so much because of the treacherous rail gaps, but nobody wants us cyclists riding down Central anyway, so here’s another way to discourage such travel.

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