The draft Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) was released in September 2013 and is shown in the map to the right. It is a combination of Alternatives 2 and 3; Alternatives 1 and 4 were not recommended for advancement. All four alternatives can be viewed below in "How was the draft LPA identified?"
After the LPA is finalized, it will be further refined through future engineering and planning phases.
Bus lanes would be located at the outside of the street in some instances – in which case they would share the lane with right-turning vehicles – and in the median in others. Typical street cross-sections are shown below. To accommodate these bus lanes, University between Avenida Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King would be reduced from six lanes to four lanes, and Yale between Cesar Chavez and Gibson would be reduced from four lanes to two. These sections currently have excess capacity, and lane reductions are not expected to have much impact on existing traffic. Under this proposal, UNM would also have to limit traffic on Las Lomas and West Redondo to buses and local traffic only, to minimize bus delays.
No lanes would be removed on Avenida Cesar Chavez or University north of Lomas. Instead, bus guideways would be built in the existing medians.
Riders would board the bus at about 14 stations along the route, an average of one every half-mile. Where the buses operate in the median, the stations would also be located in the median, and riders would access them using signalized crosswalks.
This study used an Alternatives Analysis (AA) process, which was required for projects seeking federal funding. Building upon the travel needs identified in the 2011 scoping report, the AA began in June 2012 and has relied heavily on public and stakeholder involvement from the beginning. MRCOG assembled a technical team consisting of representatives from the City of Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, UNM, CNM, the Sunport, Rio Metro RTD, and other stakeholders, which has advised the team at every step of the process. Through September 2013, there have been five series of formal public meetings to get input at critical stages of the study, and MRCOG has also conducted surveys and held other events to get feedback.
The AA began with the identification of the area’s transportation needs and the project goals and objectives. By January, stakeholders identified a “long list” of possible transit routes, which was then vetted by the technical committee, public meetings, and preliminary analysis. Low-performing routes such as Girard were removed, leaving a “short list” of possible routes. This short list was again vetted by the technical committee and the public and was subjected to more detailed analysis. The results of this analysis, as well as earlier versions of the routes, are available on our Materials page. From the short list, four specific alternatives were identified, as shown below. Alternative 3 performed the best and was recommended as the Draft Locally Preferred Alternative, followed by Alternative 2 as described earlier. The Draft LPA was presented for public input in September 2013, and once feedback is incorporated, the LPA will be finalized and project development will begin.
Click image caption to view larger map.
Buses would operate 16 hours per day Monday through Saturday, and 12 hours per day on Sundays. Within the core service area – roughly between the UNM Cancer Center and the sports stadiums – buses would arrive every five minutes during peak periods, and every 10 minutes off-peak. In the northern and southern ends of the corridor, buses would arrive every 15 minutes during peak periods and every 30 minutes off-peak. In other words, every third bus would leave the core service area and continue north to Menaul or south to the Sunport. During weekends, buses would run every 15 minutes throughout the corridor. Special operating schedules could be developed for sports games and other special events.
This service could potentially be operated by ABQ Ride, the Rio Metro Regional Transit District, or another entity such as UNM. The study team is exploring these alternatives to determine the most appropriate operator.
It will take an estimated $62 to $65 million to build this Bus Rapid Transit system, including vehicles, a new park-and-ride facility, maintenance facility upgrades, and general system costs. This is a deliberately conservative (high) estimate, including a 40% contingency for unexpected costs, and it is expected that the actual costs will be significantly lower. Up to 80% of the funding could come from the Federal Transit Administration, with the rest provided by local agencies and institutions.
Once built, the system would cost about $3.2 to $3.3 million every year to operate. This cost would be the responsibility of the operating agency and participating institutions such as UNM and CNM.
In late September, MRCOG will submit a request to the Federal Transit Administration to enter into Project Development, which will allow us to further flesh out details such as who owns and operates the system, how it is financed, and the roles of each stakeholder group (UNM, CNM, etc.). Project Development will also allow us to create more detailed ridership and cost estimates and begin some of the engineering work. After that, the project can compete for federal funding to build the system. If funding is granted, the project could open to riders as early as fall 2017.
ALIGNMENT REPORT FINALIZED:
The final version of the Alternatives Alignment Identification and Assessment report is now available.
STUDY NEARS FTA SUBMITTAL:
The project team is preparing a Request to Enter Project Development, which would allow the project to go through environmental review, design, and engineering.