Albuquerque Rapid Transit or ART combines many features of rail transit with the flexibility of buses. ART is the most cost-effective technology for the City of Albuquerque’s current population and future ridership estimates. Some key elements of ART include:
Albuquerque Rapid Transit will provide quick and efficient bus service with increased dependability and timeliness. By purchasing fare tickets at nearby kiosks, ART can reduce dwell time; how long the bus is standing still to pick up passengers which greatly improves service speed. This combined with advanced signal timing and a dedicated lane allows the ART to move more easily through city traffic. ART, while designed to look and operate like trains, is a considerably less costly alternative to light rail.
The important part of the ART station platform is how it interacts with the ART bus. On a regular bus route, passengers have to climb a step or two or the bus kneels or a wheelchair ramp must be folded out. ART stations are like train platforms in that when the bus pulls up, the height of the floor of bus is the same as the station platform. No climbing steps. This allows passengers to simply walk or roll onto the bus. The stations contribute to the permanence and attractiveness of the overall system and often have passenger amenities such as shelters, benches, lighting and potentially, local art work.
Another important means of increasing timeliness and dependability is the reduction of dwell time; the amount of time a ART vehicle is standing at a station while people are getting on and off the bus. With off-board fare purchasing, all passengers are already ticketed when the bus arrives. All the doors open and passengers can quickly get on or off the bus, reducing standing time to mere seconds.
Where possible, ART buses run in their own dedicated lane. The flexibility of the placement of those lanes is one of the great assets of Albuquerque Rapid Transit. The dedicated lanes can go down the curb or down the middle of the street, avoiding congestion and achieving the consistent speeds that set ART apart from ordinary bus service.
ART's flexibility also applies to the ART vehicles themselves. This is a picture of the left side of a bus; notice there are doors here also. This is another flexibility feature of ART; the bus can perform its function of moving passengers from destination to destination - no matter which side of the bus the platform is on. So if the dedicated lane shifts from center lane to outside or curb lane, it doesn’t matter.
Another aid that helps to maintain consistent speeds, timeliness, and dependability for the ART is a system of traffic signal-priorities. This signal (in Eugene, Oregon) is of a type borrowed from railroads. The vertical line means the bus can proceed. A horizontal line tells the bus to stop, allowing other vehicles to make their turns.