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Rural bus service to expand in Doa Ana County despite low ridership

Despite years of low ridership, commissioners voted 3 to 2 Tuesday to expand a program that provides rural bus service to Doña Ana County.

“I am not against transportation, but I think we need to revamp it and make it more business friendly and make sure we manage it appropriately,” said Isabella Solis, the commissioner for district four.

South Central Regional Transit Director David Armijo called her criticism unfair.

“While ridership may be low compared to some, this is a rural transit district,” Armijo said. “We’re now carrying about 3.5 (average) persons per trip. We’d love to carry more.”

The agency’s $479,000 budget is outlined on page 245 of this document. Commissioners also approved a new line to Hatch.

There were about 36,000 riders in the bus service last year, according to county data. That includes repeat riders, a spokesman confirmed.

Armijo said ridership grew by 61 percent in 2018 and continues to grow in 2019.

In an ABC-7 special report from November 2016, some residents called the service a “gross misuse of tax-payer money.”

“It’s like my own limo,” said Robert Garnica, who rode the bus by himself one day.

“I think that transportation is key and it’s important,” Solis told ABC-7. “Will we ever get rich off it? No. I don’t think so. But we do need to provide transportation for our community.”

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