taking public transport in the western united states is not like elsewhere. in fact, around here, you are lucky if public transport exists at all and, unless you live in the exact right part of town, it probably won’t do you much good.
but we’ve been taking a lot of public transport in albuquerque since we moved into our apartment in university heights and it has served us well. but the 66 bus deserves particular attention.
first of all, let me paint you a little picture. bill and i live in an apartment that borders several areas of town. we are west of the college ghetto, east of downtown and north of the actual ghetto. we live right behind a major hospital along a fairly busy one-way road, and we are one block south of the inimitable central ave., aka route 66. public transport is very good in this area, and that’s why we chose to live here.
several buses go up and down central, which is great because this means within 3 minutes’ walk are stops for buses that will take us downtown, to nob hill (restaurants, nightlife, pubs), to the west side and to uptown, where there are two malls and a trader joe’s. love that.
for those keeping count, buses are basically the only form of public transport in the duke city.
there are two types of buses in albuquerque. the rapid ride buses, which are newish accordion buses that have fewer stops and go a lot faster, and regular city buses, which are normal buses that have 2-3x the number of stops of a rapid ride.
the 66 bus is a regular city bus that goes up and down central. for the longest time living in albuquerque, i would hear…stories… about the 66 bus. but i could never verify them because i never took the bus.
i am here to verify the stories. the 66 bus is a cultural experience. for some reason, this bus in particular attracts all of the unsavory, unwashed, drug addicted, talking to themselves, gang banger, flea bitten types in the city. you think i am exaggerating but i am not. the conversations i’ve overheard on the 66 include discussions about drugs, “doing time” and “just got out”, how so and so was talking shit about so and so, and how “i lived for like 6 years on the res”.
the 766 and 777, rapid ride buses, use the same route as the 66 and cost the same amount ($1 per ride), but for some reason, the crazies ONLY TAKE THE 66!
i can verify this fact by an incident from the other day. we decided to try our hand at getting up to the target on eubank (a fair far ways from where we live, mind you) by bus. we managed to get on the 11 bus which goes up lomas – a regular city bus. were there crazies on the number 11? no. no crazies. several old ladies with scarves in their hair toting grocery bags. one very talkative, congenial old man. a lady with two balloons giving out valentine’s day candy hearts. that was it!
the crazies only take the 66.
that’s not to say that it’s dangerous. for some reason, people respect the bus. it’s kind of like an irish pub. once you’re inside, you’re all on the same level. there is a kind of equality about the fact that you’re on the bus. and they don’t want to disrespect the driver, either. not like in dublin where people will go upstairs in the bus and try to get away with smoking, drinking, fighting and all other assortment of mayhem.
no, albuquerque crazies respect the bus.
we don’t take the 66 that often, mostly because it is slower and comes less frequently than the rapid rides. but on occasion, a 66 will arrive before the others and we hop on. or if we’re going to one of our favorite pubs, oniell’s, we take the 66 because it stops right at the front door.
i am a huge fan of public transport, and i still contend that what albuquerque needs is a good tram system. but for now, we will continue to take ABQRide with the rest of the crazies, loving every minute.