Albuquerque City Council passes permanent zero fare programme
The permanent implementation of Zero Fares highlights the City of Albuquerque’s commitment to creating a more inclusive and accessible transit system for its residents.
Credit: Albuquerque City Council
After a comprehensive two-year pilot programme, meticulous data analysis and input from the community, Albuquerque’s public transportation system, ABQ RIDE, is now permanently fare-free. Albuquerque City Council has approved ordinance O-23-89, solidifying the commitment to zero fares for all services provided by ABQ RIDE, following its earlier move in April 2023, when it voted to eliminate fares for the city’s ART line and the Sun Van Paratransit service.
“Since the Zero Fare Pilot Program began, we have seen the positive impact it has had on the lives of our neighbours, friends and visitors getting around town,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “Zero Fares is one example of how Albuquerque is paving the way for cities across the nation to implement equity-based initiatives that benefit everyone.”
The decision marks a significant shift in the city’s approach to public transportation, placing a strong emphasis on accessibility and equality. Mayor Keller expressed his commitment to ensuring that public transportation is a service accessible to all residents, regardless of their financial situation.
“We reflect on the progress we have made towards building a more accessible and equitable public transit system in Albuquerque,” said Transit Director Leslie Keener. “With Zero Fares permanently in place, ABQ RIDE can focus its efforts on increasing safety and building a team that is dedicated to moving the City’s public transportation system forward through service, technology and sustainability.”
Albuquerque now stands as one of the largest U.S. cities to implement a permanent zero fare transit programme, following in the footsteps of Kansas City, Missouri, which initiated a similar programme in 2020.
ABQ RIDE serves an average of 23,800 riders daily, and 88% of them live in households with an income of less than $35,000 annually. By eliminating bus fares, the City of Albuquerque aims to ensure that all transit-dependent riders have access to this essential service. The move is expected to alleviate financial burdens on low-income households and contribute to the overall wellbeing of the community.