Albuquerque Rapid Transit is a form of transit that combines many features of rail transit with the flexibility of buses. ART, at 1/3rd the cost of rail, is the most cost-effective technology for the City of Albuquerque’s current population and future ridership estimates.
Some key elements of ART include:
• Dedicated road lane or mixed traffic route
• Frequent service (every 7.5 minutes)
• Prioritized signaling at intersections
• Pre-boarding ticketing
• Level boarding raised-platform stations
The goal of Albuquerque Rapid Transit is to provide quick and efficient bus service with increased dependability and timeliness. The level boarding platforms mean that wheelchairs, walkers, and bicycles can just roll on board; no time-consuming racks or ramps. Combined with off-board fare purchases, ART can reduce the time the bus stands still to pick up passengers, which will greatly improve service speed. This, combined with advanced signal timing and a dedicated lane, allows the ART to move more easily through city traffic with much greater dependability than Rapid Ride.

Learn More about ART
Information about tree removals and plantings in each of the five construction zones is available here.
It is for exactly those reasons that Albuquerque Rapid Transit will be operating on Central Ave. from Coors to Louisiana. Transit systems have been described as “moving sidewalks.” They transport people to locations where they can get off and shop, do business or have a meal. People can get right back on and do more of the same or go home. ART will also upgrade the look and feel of Central Ave by adding to the walkability and livability of neighborhoods. Plans include widening sidewalks and adding trees to encourage pedestrian and bike-friendly development. Signalized crosswalks will also improve the safety of those walking or biking in the neighborhoods, as well as improved street lighting. Central also connects some of Albuquerque’s main institutions; University of New Mexico, Presbyterian Hospital. With the help of Innovate ABQ, ART could stimulate a tremendous economic revitalization and development of the corridor.
Two main reasons. The city wants to improve the timely nature of service down Central Avenue, ABQ RIDE’s most-used corridor (roughly 42% of all ridership on ABQ RIDE is concentrated on Central). Secondly, the city wants to take advantage of the opportunities for development that occur when a transportation system goes into a main corridor. As has happened with so many other cities, business development occurs along areas where many people are concentrated.
Currently, there are two Rapid Ride routes that run along Central in the existing traffic flow. They utilize stations that are spread about one mile apart. When traffic stacks up at key points during certain times of the day, the Rapid Rides tend to stack up with it, too. ART would replace the two Rapid Ride routes on Central with a timelier service, utilizing a mix of dedicated lanes, bi-directional lanes, and reversible lanes. It will run by each station every 7 ½ minutes as intended, without being stuck in regular traffic.
ART will replace the two current Rapid Rides on Central Avenue. The local Route #66 will still continue to operate, although stop locations will be reviewed ensure buses stopped for passengers do not block traffic where there is only one lane of traffic planned.We will notify our passengers of any service changes before they are made.
Central Avenue is the heart of the city. The corridor has the ridership, population density, land uses, and activity centers to support a successful BRT system. It would meet the demand for reliable transit service while benefiting the entire community. ART will replace the two current Rapid Rides on Central, and the local Route #66 will continue to operate, although stop locations will be reviewed to ensure buses stopped for passengers do not block traffic where there is only one lane of traffic planned.
• The Rapid Ride introduced in 2004 is at capacity. ART is the next logical step in modern transportation service.
• 5.3 million riders in 2014 — nearly 15,000 per day and 41% of the total number of ABQ RIDE passengers
• Connections with 32 of the 37 existing ABQ RIDE bus routes
• Feasibility study ruled out the Lomas Blvd corridor as an anchor for BRT – transportation must be where people want to go.
One-mile wide and nine miles long, the Corridor contains about 5% of the area of the City of Albuquerque but is home to 15% of all households and 24% of all jobs in the City. The three routes on Central carry 42% of all transit ridership on the system and connect to 32 routes that crisscross the City. The Central Corridor is a busy place.
Improving transit options is vital to Albuquerque’s future quality of life and economic development. Improving the city’s transportation at its core can attract direct investment growing locally-owned businesses, providing increased employment opportunities, as the City of Cleveland experienced.

In addition to access to job opportunities, transit stations, by providing anchors for a community, can help offer place-making; that is, neighborhoods that are considered pedestrian-friendly, encouraging people to walk or bike between businesses, offices, homes and other destinations. This in turn enhances the overall quality of life in the community.

Learn More about the Benefits of BRT
ART will run a 9 mile route in dedicated lanes serving 20 stations from Louisiana on the east to Coors on the west. Just as the Rapid Ride does, ART service will extend in undedicated lanes from Louisiana to Tramway and Uptown, and from Coors to the Central and Unser Transit Center.
• Central has the highest transit ridership in the City of Albuquerque ~5.4 million trips on Central (routes 66, 766 and 777) vs. 0.8 million on Lomas (route 11) - about 7 times the ridership (FY14)
• Central has the best connectivity 32 other transit routes.
• City Council instructed ABQ RIDE in 2002 (R-02-66) to pursue a major federal transit investment on Central Avenue, and in 2003 Council voted to make Central a “Major Transit Corridor” (suitable for dedicated transit lanes) in the City/County Comprehensive Plan whereas Lomas is a lower-level “Enhanced Transit Corridor.”
• Central connects more people with more significant places. The only significant destinations on Lomas are the Courthouse District and UNMH.
• Central serves “the front door” of some of the region’s most important activity centers including the University of New Mexico, Presbyterian Health Center, Nob Hill, Downtown & Innovate ABQ, and Old Town. It also serves West Central, the BioPark, East Downtown, International District, Expo NM, and East Gateway, as well as ABQ RIDE’s Alvarado Transportation Center and Central & Unser Transit Center.
• Comparing Central from Downtown to Tramway with the similar segment of Lomas; Central has about 40% more residents and about 18% more jobs within ½ mile.
• Central provides one of the region’s river crossings, connecting Westside residents with eastside destinations.
• Central serves more people who rely on transit as a primary source of transportation.
• Central is both the historical spine of transit service in the city since the 1880’s and has the cache of being former Route 66.
• According to an independent study conducted by the National Association of Office and Industrial Properties (NAOIP) a BRT on Central has the potential to generate over $900 million of economic development from the river to East Nob Hill.
• According to an independent study by Institute for Transportation and Development Policy the central corridor has the opportunity to be the first gold rated BRT system in the county. This is due in part to the existing connectivity and ability for growth related development
The vast majority of the money for this project is coming from the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Small Starts Capital Grant Program. Earlier this year, City Council also agreed to issue $13 million dollars of gross receipts tax revenue bonds for this project. The remaining money will come from different sources.
Small Starts grant funds cannot be used for other types of infrastructure improvements nor to offset operating expenses. The grant offers a unique opportunity for the City of Albuquerque to enhance and update the Central Avenue Corridor, providing first class transit service, safety improvements, ADA-compliant, vibrant pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods that support existing businesses and attract new investment while following Albuquerque’s Complete Streets policy. The grant for this specific corridor is an opportunity for improvements that would not otherwise be available.
The NAIOP study, for instance, says that development along the ART route could create several thousand new residences and importantly several thousand new jobs. The creation of jobs is the very definition of economic development. Organizations like LAVU, Molina, Fat Pipe, and Innovate ABQ could go anywhere in the City they wanted. They chose the Central Corridor.
Cost of operating fixed route buses and their associated maintenance is $29.3. ABQ RIDE general fund subsidy is $21.6 million.
Consideration of a replacement for the Rapid Ride began when City Council adopted R-2002-66, instructing us to consider Central as the priority corridor for a high-capacity transit project. The “Rapid Transit Project Alternatives Analysis” was received by the City Council in 2003. The Rapid Rides themselves were instituted in 2004 and 2009 on the basis of that report, both to meet growing demand and as a means of “testing the market” on Central. They have been very successful. So, the first feasibility study specific to BRT was conducted in fall of 2011. Since then, we have examined just about every system in the United States; researched FTA documents, investigated information from the National Bus Rapid Transit Research Institute, and the Institute for Transportation Development Policy among many others, to determine what works and why. Many research documents can be found on the website.
The ART will stop at designated stops only, generally stops are anywhere from ¼ to ½ mile or more apart.
There is seating capacity for about 40 to 50 people, depending on the number of wheelchairs positions and bike-holding positions.
Through a series of public meetings, local stakeholders identified a list of potential BRT stops along Central Avenue. During the current Project Development phase, each potential station location is being evaluated based on its local environmental impact, ridership potential, construction and operating costs. This will in turn fold into determining what is needed for the overall funding plan.
Transit Oriented Development (TOD) is a mixed-use area located within close proximity to a transit stop or line; normally with a core commercial area that is pedestrian-friendly and encourages people to walk or bike between businesses, offices, homes and other destinations. Transit Oriented Development often focuses on a 1/2-mile area, which is generally considered to be walking distance around a transit station.
An area of commercial businesses, residential and public space like parks and other types of gathering spots that create an inviting area that attracts residents, employers and visitors alike.
Should all Federal Transit Authority (FTA) goals be met and funding secured, Albuquerque could see this innovative and more efficient transportation option in 2017.
We’d love to hear your thoughts! Please visit the Contact Page to reach the project team, sign up for email updates or follow us on Facebook. The next round of public meetings will take place in September, so check this website for updates.
Please note that the proposed street improvements to Central Avenue between San Pasquale and Coors Blvd. NW, including changes to the traffic intersections at Central and San Pasquale, and Lomas between San Pasquale and Rio Grande, are being developed in tandem with the ART project, but are part of a separate project titled the “West Central Improvement Project.” Please visit to see more on the proposed changes to West Central. As both the Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) and the West Central Improvements projects are updated, we will publish those changes to this website.
While no one can foretell the future, other cities such as Ft. Collins, Cleveland and Phoenix have done it. They have all experienced a positive return on their investment in a transit system; anywhere from four to $150 dollars on every dollar spent, and in all cases property values along the line have gone up. There is much supporting documentation on our project website at
A traffic-impact analysis was performed as part of the environmental evaluation. The impact to each signalized intersection on Central Avenue between Unser Boulevard and Louisiana Boulevard was assessed using actual traffic counts from morning and afternoon rush hours. The results of the analysis found that all of the intersections would continue to operate in accordance with City of Albuquerque standards. In addition to the intersection-level analysis prepared for the project, the Mid Region Council of Governments (MRCOG) analyzed potential impacts to parallel routes and found that while some through-traffic shifts to parallel routes, those routes have available capacity to handle the additional traffic and meet the City’s standards. Nationally, studies have also found that focusing development in major transit corridors like Central Avenue makes a significant dent in future congestion because it enables more people to use transit or other modes of transportation, including walking.
The ART project will contribute and in some areas enhance the character of Central Avenue. Widening sidewalks, removing sidewalk ADA deficiencies, adding sidewalk landscaping, and improving pedestrian lighting create a walkable environment. This type of environment attracts people and businesses. Many areas along Central Avenue want slower traffic. This increases the safety of pedestrian and bicycle users and makes businesses more “visible”.
Some left turn access will go away, in favor of legalized, signalized U-turns. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and others have studied the impacts of similar projects on businesses and safety. FHWA found “the vast majority of businesses do as well or better after the access management project is completed.” FHWA and other scholarly studies found that most drivers will use a signalized U-turn to get to their destination business.
All vehicular turns and crossings of Central Avenue will be at signalized intersections with signalized left turn/U-turns. These signals will be provided every ¼ mile, on average. These changes are estimated to cause drivers a 30-90 second delay in travel time to accomplish the safe U-turns.

According to studies conducted by Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), signalized left turns/U-turns are safer for vehicles and pedestrians than uncontrolled left turns in and out of driveways and neighborhood streets. They improve visibility and reduce distractions to make travel safer for pedestrians and drivers.
An increase of about 4% with the current operating plan.
For now, the hours of service for ART will match the current hours of service for the Rapid Rides down Central; from approximately 5:30 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. The hours for ART could also be expanded later during summer, much as Route #66 operates 66 Late Night during the summer.
Currently, it is a matter of money. But one of ART’s goals for the future is to expand service.
Yes. One lane will be open in each direction at all times in front of businesses. We will also be working with business to make sure people know they are open and accepting customers.
ART will not only improve the timely nature of transit service on Central Avenue, it will also upgrade the appearance and condition of Central. The project will add lighting, improve sidewalk conditions, add sidewalk landscaping, and improve pedestrian safety, all of which supports the furtherance of economic opportunity along this corridor.
We continue to welcome comments and suggestions, although the project design is complete. Please contact us with any questions or comments you have.
A project like ART, by motivating development along Central, would help grow the overall economy in the city. And when the economy improves, all areas of the city benefit. Also, the majority of ABQ RIDE’s bus routes connect to the Central Ave routes. ART could help improve the timeliness of those routes as well.
Rapid transit projects like ART have a proven record of stimulating development and redevelopment of neighborhoods in other cities. For instance, an article in Albuquerque Business First said during the first year that Fort Collins, CO operated its rapid transit system, it attracted $150 million in associated development along its transit corridor. A Forbes magazine article said Cleveland’s $250 million investment in putting its HealthLine down a main corridor has generated $5.8 billion in development since opening in 2008. That’s $114 for each transit dollar invested.

  • Centers and Corridors policies for vibrant activity centers connected by high quality transit

  • Street hierarchy and policies for improved transit in appropriate areas, served by development in updated Comp Plan

  • Permissive uses in Centers/Corridors to encourage TOD – higher densities, clarified and simplified requirements, higher building heights, etc.

  • Street design standards for roadways that serve all users through updated DPM

  • Streamlined approval processes where appropriate to encourage and incentivize TOD development

  • Mixed uses everywhere – potential residential density increases along corridors, etc., especially Central Ave.

  • Additional standards for placemaking, pedestrian-friendly and transit-supportive development

  • Enhanced standards for access and connectivity for pedestrians and transit users

  • Zoning that signals to investors and developers where the City wants to support transit with TOD and vice versa

The timing is specifically based on the minimum crossing distance required by the geometry (width of each crossing) and the time would start after the pedestrian push button is pushed and the “WALK” symbol appears. The timing minimum is based on Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) minimum crossing times (national standards) and will never be shortened due to traffic or BRT bus calls to the signal.