CARLSBAD ― The Carlsbad City Council Jan. 10 approved a $1.3 million agreement with the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) for public transportation improvements across the City of Carlsbad, stated a memorandum written to councilors by Joshua Moore, transit director for the City of Carlsbad.
Most of the money, $750,000, would fund operating costs for transit services, read City of Carlsbad documents.
A replacement bus, acquisition of eight bus shelters with benches, installation of 19 bus shelters and installation of a mechanics lift at the transit garage are part of the operation costs, Moore stated in his memorandum.
The improvements come as the number or riders for the city’s public dial-a-ride door to door service, or demand response services and fixed route services – bus rides with consistent routes and schedules – rose from 2021 to 2022, according to transit data.
Fixed route services had 4,062 riders in 2021. That usage increased to 6,990 in 2022. There were 11,334 demand use riders in 2021 which increased to 15,789 in 2022.
City of Carlsbad data showed that the number of ridership hours increased from 2021 to 2022 and travel miles increased during the same time frame.
Moore said increased efficiency of operations, a desire to get out after the COVID-19 pandemic and increased population in Carlsbad led to increased ridership.
“The Covid-19 “scare” had a considerable impact on ridership throughout 2021, now with people feeling more comfortable with being “out and about”, we are seeing numbers increasingly climb towards pre-pandemic levels,” Moore said.
NMDOT noted rural bus transit in New Mexico communities accounted for over 556,000 trips, reducing 3.7 million vehicle miles and gasoline consumption by more that 180,000 gallons in 2021.
Carlsbad is one of 13 rural communities in New Mexico with a fixed route system. Seventeen rural communities in New Mexico have demand response systems, according to the NMDOT.
Municipal transit use across New Mexico in general accounted for 5.5 million trips in 2021, according to NMDOT. Buses also reduced 39 million vehicle miles traveled and reduced gasoline consumption by 1.9 million gallons.
Formed in 1996 the Carlsbad Municipal Transit System was responsible for public transit in the City of Carlsbad city limits and portions of Eddy County close to the city, read the transit system website.
Inner workings of NMDOT-City of Carlsbad agreement highlighted
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) provided the funds from the Formula Grants for Rural Areas program, according to the FTA website.
The Rural Areas program provides capital, planning and operating assistance to states to support public transportation in rural areas with populations of less than 50,000 residents, noted FTA’s website.
The State of New Mexico participates in the federal program and the governor designates NMDOT to administer the funds, read the agreement between NMDOT and the City of Carlsbad.
“Our transit system has been a great community service, and we’re especially glad to see use continue to grow,” said Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway.