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ABQ Ride Connect Offers Free Rides and Enhances Transportation Accessibility for Underserved Communities in New Mexico

The City of Albuquerque and Spare launch ABQ Ride Connect, offering free rides to bridge first/last mile gaps and enhance transportation accessibility for underserved communities in the Rio Grande and Southwest Mesa areas of New Mexico.

Fathima Tabassim

The City of Albuquerque recently launched ABQ Ride Connect, a microtransit service set to enhance transportation accessibility in the Rio Grande and Southwest Mesa areas, starting March 18, 2024. Developed in partnership with Spare, ABQ Ride Connect aims to address the transit needs of underserved communities, providing a convenient and reliable alternative to traditional fixed-route services.

Traditional fixed-route services can often fail to adequately serve diverse neighborhoods, leaving residents with limited mobility options. ABQ Ride Connect bridges this first/last mile gap by offering door-to-door service, utilizing five electric vans, and a user-friendly mobile app for simple trip bookings. Riders also have the option to continue using the Transit App to book trips, adding to the convenience of the booking experience. With a few simple clicks on either Spare’s rider app or the Transit App, residents can request rides to essential destinations like grocery stores or connect with the Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) line. This innovative approach ensures that transportation remains accessible to all, regardless of geographical location or mobility constraints. To further enhance transportation options and meet diverse rider needs at no added costs, ABQ Ride Connect leverages Spare’s Open Fleets to automatically dispatch trips to Lyft upon reaching a certain wait-time threshold, predetermined by the agency.

To support the City of Albuquerque, Spare provides the technological backbone for efficient operations, from dispatching to rider management. Spare was happy to provide on-site support in preparation for launch; Organized into small training groups, the ABQ team had the opportunity to dive deeper into their new platform, walk through specific scenarios, and talk through best practices. In collaboration with Spare, their team was also able to fine-tune the service further based on live feedback.

The City of Albuquerque recognizes the vital importance of equitable transit solutions for all its residents and is taking steps to improve their network within diverse communities. The strategic launch of ABQ Ride Connect serves communities that have historically lacked sufficient transit options, often relying heavily on personal vehicles. By introducing microtransit, the city provides a viable alternative to private car usage while enhancing connectivity within these communities. Moreover, ABQ Ride Connect addresses another pressing issue: the shortage of bus drivers. By not requiring commercial driver's licenses for van operators, the program opens up the hiring pool, making it easier to recruit drivers and ensure reliable service.

As a pilot program, ABQ Ride Connect will undergo continuous evaluation based on rider feedback, and Spare will regularly review trip data with ABQ to refine the system further. This iterative approach allows for additional adjustments and improvements, ensuring that the service evolves to meet the community's changing needs and provides riders with the best possible experience.

Congratulations to the City of Albuquerque on the launch of ABQ Ride Connect, and moving towards a more connected and sustainable future for New Mexico!