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Doa Ana County votes not to expand rural transportation to Hatch

Doña Ana County Commissioners voted Tuesday not to expand the county’s rural transportation service by creating a route to Hatch.

“I’ve gotten the numbers and the ridership and I have trouble with that,” said Commissioner Isabella Solis, who represents district four.

The commissioners voted four to one to keep the funding at $350,000, not giving the district an additional $137,000 for a route to Hatch.

“It’s going to be even more challenging going north than it’s been going south,” said Commissioner Kim Hakes, who represents district five.

The South Central Regional Transit District has five lines, which provide transportation to rural parts of the county for $1 a trip. Ridership grew 160 percent from October 2016 to September 2017, according to the website.

“More people are still learning about the service,” said David Armijo, the executive director of South Central Regional Transit. “It’s a rural service, so it takes a little bit of time and it takes a little while to get people up to steam.”

However, when ABC-7 boarded the turquoise route from El Paso to Anthony before noon, only three people boarded during the seventeen stops that bus took.

“Where we need to start focusing on is cost effectiveness,” admitted Armijo. “As we see the numbers go up in ridership.”

Every day, Rita Avalos relies on transportation from her home in La Union to her job at the senior center in Anthony, New Mexico.

“I just enjoy it you know,” Avalos said. “I have a lot of confidence in (my driver).”

“I think it’s very critical to provide transportation to people such as Rita,” said her driver, Liz Smith. “There are very many out there that don’t have a way to go, that would otherwise be dependent on people to give them rides where they need to go, just to pay bills.”

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