The city of Albuquerque plans to use about $1 million in federal funding to study the idea of creating a dedicated bus lane down Central Avenue and making other improvements.
Mayor Richard Berry said the concept to be studied, known as Bus Rapid Transit, is "the next logical step" for Albuquerque.
The 18- to 24-month study will look at the feasibility of building such a system on Central, from Tramway to the far West Side. The idea would be to create a fast, efficient bus service that has its own dedicated lane of travel and coordinates with traffic lights to keep the intersections "green" for buses.
It's somewhat similar to the "Rapid Ride" buses already in operation along major thoroughfares, though those buses don't have a dedicated lane.
The new study should make it more clear how much a Bus Rapid Transit system would cost and where dedicated bus lanes could be built.
It may not be possible for buses to have their own lane along the entire stretch of Central, said Bruce Rizzieri, Albuquerque's transit director. There might have to be a loop or bypass around the Downtown core, for example, given how narrow the road is there, officials said.
The study is a required step if the city decides to pursue federal funding to actually build a Bus Rapid Transit system, Berry said.
The city has issued a request for proposals for firms to complete the study, and the administration is close to sending a recommendation to the City Council.
Berry said Central Avenue is a reasonable place to study the concept because it accounts for nearly half the city's bus ridership. Funding for the study comes from Federal Transit Administration grants.
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