A growing number of Veterans using V.A. Healthcare System cards to ride the bus and the increasing number of people downloading ABQ Ride’s smartphone apps is helping boost ABQ Ride’s ridership to an all-time high. It has also resulted in a savings value of hundreds of thousands of dollars in phone calls to 311 about Transit.
More people took ABQ Ride during the past 12 month period (Fiscal Year 2014) than in any other 12 month period in Albuquerque’s public transportation history. That’s partly because of the growing number of veterans who’ve been using their veterans identification card to ride free of charge on ABQ Ride since late April. Statistics through July 2 show almost 68,000 (67,690) veterans have used their V.A. cards to take ABQ Ride. The vast majority of those rides (57,756-85 percent) have taken place on weekdays, with Route No. 66 getting the most veterans’ ridership with 14,251-23 percent of total veterans’ ridership.
“I am proud to say that ridership among veterans has more than exceeded our hopes,” said Mayor Richard J. Berry. “We identified a need in the veteran community and addressed it and now we see it paying off in a very meaningful way, both in the number of veterans being served and in a boost to ridership.”
Latest ridership figures show 13,009,047 passengers hopped on ABQ Ride during Fiscal Year 2014; a 12 month period ending June 30. That amount tops the previous 12 month record for ridership by 5,826 passengers, which occurred during calendar year 2012 (13,003,221).
Another contributing factor may be the different technological aids ABQ Ride has made available to riders. As of July 8, the ABQ Ride app has been downloaded 21,030 times since its rollout. Roughly 20 percent (4,130) of that total has come from downloads of ABQ Ride’s Android App, which debuted in December, 2013.
These downloads, along with riders’ use of the Txt2Ride service for the Rapid Ride routes and UNM’s Where’s My Bus website have helped vastly reduce the number of ABQ Ride-related calls to 311 during the past two fiscal years. Since FY 2013, when the Apps, Txt2Ride, and WMB were introduced, statistics show that as ridership has increased, calls to 311 concerning ABQ Ride have actually decreased.
That decrease in calls has also led to ABQ Ride paying less for transit-related calls to 311. For instance, in Fiscal Year ’13 (with each 311 call costing $1.86), ABQ Ride realized a cost avoidance of about $184,000. In FY ’14, another reduction in 311 calls helped ABQ Ride realize another cost avoidance of $364,000, which was added to the money it avoided paying the previous fiscal year.
“Much of the credit again should go to our employees, who’ve not only helped develop the Apps and Txt2Ride, but also manage to meet Albuquerque’s steady transportation growth with just a few more routes, buses and drivers than they had to work with only three years ago,” said Bruce Rizzieri, director of ABQ Ride. “We hope to expand our resources in the future, such as BRT, to continue to better serve Albuquerque’s growing transportation needs.”