I don’t just use public transportation. I’m passionate about it. And like so many, it started as a necessity to get me from Point A to Point B in a way that was affordable, reliable and convenient.

Over most of the past two years, the Rail Runner and Santa Fe Trails bus system have been part of my weekdays. As a student and student employee of Santa Fe Community College, I have relied on both transit systems to get me from where I was living in downtown Albuquerque to the campus in Santa Fe and back.

Choosing public transportation was a no-brainer. With only one vehicle in the family, it was clear that utilizing the transit options near where I lived to get to and from the campus in Santa Fe was the smart choice. It also kept the vehicle available for my significant other to get to and from work.

However, throughout the process, commuting became about more than just transportation. The other commuters became friends. The ticket takers, bus drivers and others who worked within the transit system were familiar faces I interacted with five days a week.

Upon making friends with my fellow commuters and becoming aware of some of the issues facing our routes, I became an advocate for improved access to public transit. Since then, I have been active in working with Santa Fe Trails and Transit Division Director Keith Wilson to improve and expand service on routes needed for commuters and students like myself.

Thanks to the work of advocates and Santa Fe Trails, expanding routes and services has made a noticeable and impactful difference for students who had been limited by the previous schedule as to what courses they could enroll in.

The college has also stepped up to do its part to create more affordable transportation for students by offering half-price bus passes. This not only makes it much cheaper than operating a car, but it also reduces the wear and tear on vehicles and is better for the environment with fewer cars on the roads.

But there’s so much more that needs to be done for public transportation. Service needs to be expanded to the areas where those who need it most can access it. Every day, the elderly, those on limited incomes, students, employees and more use public transit, and we must continue working to ensure it is available to all who need it.

I will continue to ride, and I will keep recommending it as a viable option that not only saves money but also can help save the environment — and that can help provide access to education for those who would not otherwise have the opportunity.

I will continue to advocate for better access to public transit and will continue to be an ardent supporter — for each person I help find his or her way or right route, for each friend I’ve made in my daily commute, for each person who deserves access to more and better options, and for those leaders and lawmakers who have the power to support and improve our mass transit system.

Kandis Merrill is a student at Santa Fe Community College, a commuter and a transit advocate.

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(2) comments

Dr. Michael Johnson

Just more socialist agenda promotion here. Yes, when the government controls all your transportation choices, they will continue to go after your other choices, that is what socialists do. Go to NYC sometime, who would want a mess like that?

Craig Gl

Recent arrival in Santa Fe. I used the public bus system on a scouting trip out here last year. My complaint wasn't that there are enough stops but that the system is confusing. The web site for the bus system is very hard to navigate on a cell phone, I ended having to call them to find out when the bus will come by the stop I was at. I gave up on the web site. The paper map I got was no good either. There were no instructions on how to pay for a fare. Had to call in and find out how that works too. Overall, it's a great start but they really need to improve communication on how to use the system.

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