The CNM Montoya Campus is not easy to get to without a car. Though it is in close proximity to many bike routes and bus routes, it does not interact well with each of these modes. What if the Montoya Campus had better transportation options? How would this work?
Let us examine the facts:
1. CNM is now the largest provider of higher education in the state of New Mexico.
2. All UNM and CNM students in Albuquerque have free access to the ABQ Ride transportation system.
3. There are currently no routes that quickly and directly connect the Montoya/ Eastside Campus or the South Valley Campus with the main CNM campus.
4. Many students take classes at multiple campuses.
5. The 97 Zuni route is one of the lowest ridership routes in the ABQ Ride system.
6. Morris St. has good potential for an ABQ Ride route due to it's proximity to a diverse density of housing and connection potential to other bus routes.
My proposal: Create an ABQ Ride route that connects most of the CNM campuses in Albuquerque, along with connecting other important parts of the metro.
My route concept would basically combine two currently existing routes (the 97 Zuni and the 53 Isleta) and then add a spur at the east end of the Zuni route that would go east on Central to Eubank, north on Eubank to Lomas, east on Lomas to Morris, and then the route would follow Morris north until it terminated at the Montoya CNM Campus (TVI Road NE and Morris St. NE on Google Maps).
This route alone could provide a great service to the students who currently attend CNM, but in order for it to be truly great route, some other adjustments must be made.
1. Currently, only Main Campus requires an annual paid parking pass. This makes sense, as Main is in a denser area and well connected with bike routes and bus routes. If the Valley and Montoya Campuses charged a small amount of money for a parking pass (maybe $20 per year) and this bus route was added, there would be a better incentive in place for students to use alternative transportation. Also, the money could be used to construct transit improvements (bike racks, bus shelters, etc.)
2. In this same vein, the 155 Coors route must be extended all the way down Gun Club road and terminate at the South Valley CNM campus. This route extension makes sense for a variety of reasons, one of the more obvious reasons being that most people attending the South Valley campus don't live anywhere near the current 53 route, the only route currently serving the campus. Also, it makes sense for a route to terminate at a Park and Ride facility (the South Valley CNM campus) instead of halfway down a street (Gun Club Rd).
3. Zuni Road must be reconfigured. Currently, it has two lanes in each direction with no middle turn lane. This is not only dangerous, but also inefficient. Every time a car has to turn (left or right) all the traffic in that lane must stop. This puts pressure and stress on the turning driver and causes lots of congestion. The improved Zuni Rd. would have a middle "suicide lane" and a single auto lane and bike lane on each side. Since Zuni/Lead/Coal parallel Central, this is a great potential bike route. Also, this kind of improvement on 4 lane streets has been done successfully across the city of ABQ and in cities across the nation. Less car lanes means less traffic, more bikes, more pedestrians and most likely more bus riders.
4. The terminus of the route at the Montoya Campus should be a transit center instead of just a simple bus stop. This terminus has great potential to be a plaza/ transportation hub because of it's location next to a major multi-use path (the Bear Canyon path). Currently, the connection between CNM and the multi-use path is dangerous and is not bike/handicapped friendly. If the CNM campus could eliminate 33 parking spaces, they could create a nice decorated bus shelter and a plaza with trees, benches, tables and bike racks. If this kind of visual (bike and bus transportation) greeted every student at the front door everyday, there would definitely be a different mindset about alternative transportation on the campus. This plaza would be connected with a bike/ handicapped ramp to the multi-use trail, proving ease of access for walkers and bikers. This station would also be labeled as a Park and Ride facility on city bus maps, cementing the importance of this stop and creating another use for the pre-existing parking spaces on the CNM campus.
Also, in order for the Bear Canyon trail to get a use increase, Manitoba between Juan Tabo and Tramway should be designated a bike route. This would connect the Tramway Trail to the Bear Canyon Trail/ Montoya Campus. This connection would be advertised within the school.
5. The current CNM campus stop on Lead going west must be moved off of Lead and onto Coal Pl. (different from Coal eastbound, which is labeled as Coal Ave. SE). The advantage of moving this stop is that it would:
A. Bring students to the front door of the campus instead of a block away from campus.
B. Create an opportunity for visual interaction with the CNM campus through the bus stop (decorated bus stops, students driving seeing other students using the bus, etc.)
6. The route must be branded and advertised. Though this sounds unorthodox, this is an unorthodox bus route. The most important advertising must take place within the actual CNM campuses themselves. The walls of the campus would be covered with posters and fliers advertising this bus route. The posters/fliers would emphasize three important facts:
A. the city bus is FREE for all CNM students!
B. this is a NEW bus route
C. this new bus route connects students with 3 of the 4 main CNM campuses, along with the Alvarado Transportation Center, the zoo, the Hispanic Cultural Center, etc.
Another good place to advertise the new route would be a temporary sign screwed to the bus stop signs ("The bus now stops here! Visit the88abq.gov or call ABQ-RIDE!").
Branding is also important. My idea for a route name would be The 88: CNM Connector. This is a work in progress, but the advantage of this number is it's symmetrical (88), easy to say, rhymes with lots of words and the words accurately describe one of the primary functions of this route. Putting a new number/ name on the route allows people to forget about the old routes that used to run on Isleta and Zuni and establish a new opinion about the route.
7. The bus along this route must run at least as frequently, if not more frequently than the current route 53 Isleta. This route runs every half hour and runs until at least 6:00. The new route should run later, such as until 9, at a minimum. The average CNM student has a very fluid schedule. Every half hour is often enough that it will attract new ridership.
8. The route must run along Lead and Coal all the way through Downtown to 8th St. This would add more consistency to the route.
The advantages of this new route would be:
1. Automatically High Route Ridership: All these students have free transit passes; enough said
2. Less Traffic in the Entire City: Who wouldn't want this?
3. More Transportation Options For Residents Along the Route: Options benefit everyone.
4. CNM Spending More Money on Classrooms Instead of Parking Lots: More efficient use of taxpayer dollars and tuition money
5. A Student Body That Can Save Money on Transportation and Use The Money for Other Things: This money could be invested in higher education and job training.
6. Less People Driving on the Crowded Roads, More People Using Underutilized Trails, Sidewalks and Buses: Creates more balanced traffic flows.
1. Costs Money: Though the upfront costs may be high, this kind of route would have many long-term benefits discussed above.
2. Direct Valley/ Far Northeast Heights Connection: Some NE Heights residents may not want people from the Isleta and Zuni corridor in their neighborhoods.
3. Does Not Connect All CNM Campuses: Does not serve the Westside Campus, the CNM Technology Annex, or the CNM Workforce Training Center. The Westside Campus is very far from everything, very automobile oriented, and mostly serves students who live on the Westside. The other two facilities are small and are already served directly by other bus routes that would connect to the future 88 route.
The 88: CNM Connector
Serving Isleta, Zuni/Lead/Coal, and Morris
Bike lanes along Zuni
Transit center/ Park and Ride at the Montoya CNM campus
Bus stop moved closer to CNM Main on Lead section of route
Connects 3 CNM campuses, Downtown/Alvarado, the Zoo, the South Valley, the Hispanic Cultural Center and mucho, mucho mas!