New Mexico

Commissioners disagree over ABC-7 report on rural bus service ridership

DA County commissioners disagree over...

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - Dona Ana County Commissioners Wednesday discussed ABC-7's special report highlighting low ridership of a new rural bus service.

The report explained how tax-payers are paying half a million dollars this year to fund the service, even after voters turned down a larger version of the project in 2014.

The report was praised by Commissioner Ben Rawson at Tuesday's commissioner meeting. "I really appreciate the report on the bus system," Rawson said, "I thought it was telling as they interviewed one of the passengers on the bus who says he rides it two or three times a week and he considers it his own private limo."

Commissioner Wayne Hancock, the Chairman of the South Central Regional Transit District's Board of Directors, blasted ABC-7's report, calling it "a prime example of the worst journalism in our area."

In a Facebook post over the weekend, Hancock slammed KVIA for reporting about the service that has made very little in fares its first six months.

ABC-7 did a public information request for the fares collected from March-August, and the numbers were shocking.

In July and August combined, the blue route made $203.10. The red route made $295.69. The purple route made $128.67, and the turquoise route made $35.51.

Hancock wrote, "The fares charged are not to cover the entire cost just help. Not one transportation system in the United States pays for itself." He goes on to write, "Maybe we need to boycott KVIA until they get their integrity back."

When ABC-7 asked Hancock about the post Tuesday, he said the numbers aired were not current.

ABC-7 then asked the SCRTD for current numbers.

Since August, the blue route has jumped from 141 riders a month to 159. The red route, 239 riders a month to 344. The purple route, 117 riders a month to 132 riders a month. And the turquoise route lost riders. From 32 in August, to 22 in October.

Watch Jamie Warren's report coming up on ABC-7 at 5 and 6.

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