Funding regional transit would bring considerable return on investment


COMMENTARY: In their hearts, county commissioners know rural transit services are desperately needed.

Sharon Thomas

Courtesy photo

Sharon Thomas

Surely they do not want to harm the woman in the wheelchair going to her appointment at La Clinica de Familia, the young man in Chaparral going to his kidney dialysis, the casino workers who take the bus to work, the early college high school students who take the bus home, the college students riding the bus to New Mexico State University and Doña Ana Community College, those women in Anthony who use the bus to get groceries, and so on.

Yet they refused to hear from the South Central Regional Transit District (SCRTD) and the over 80 supporters at a recent meeting.

The $350,000 request for funding from the hold harmless increase is only 3.5 percent of that revenue and a miniscule portion of the county’s entire budget. The cost per taxpayer for rural transit is $1.75 per year. Ridership is on track to be 24,000 in year two, similar to the trajectory of ridership in North Central Regional Transit District, which, a decade later, has an annual ridership of over 500,000.

Our residents deserve the same quality of transit as others in the state.

The SCRTD has completed most of phase one of their five-year plan and is projected to bring in state and federal grants of several hundred thousand dollars each year.

It doesn’t cost much to be compassionate and, in fact, continued funding of the SCRTD would bring considerable return on investment in both monetary terms and respect for our elected officials.

Sharon Thomas is the former chair of the South Central Regional Transit District Board. Agree with her opinion? Disagree? We welcome your views. Learn about submitting your own commentary here.

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