I love my job, and I really enjoy working. It gives me a sense of purpose and obviously helps me pay the bills. After I became disabled, I could no longer drive my own vehicle, and I had to make tough decisions about my new lifestyle. I even feared I would have to leave my job, since I live in La Mesilla, 7 miles south of Española, and work in Santa Fe. That is more than 50 miles I have to commute every day, and I needed to find a reliable and accessible ride to keep working.

Thanks to public transit and the North Central Regional Transit District’s “Blue Bus,” I can easily commute to my job in Santa Fe. The pressure to leave my job no longer loomed over my head, because I knew I could do the work if I just had access to get to the office every day. Public transit is dependable and very efficient. It was a lifesaver to find out about this service.

Before RTD, the only option in our area for a nondriving person to travel was walking. The RTD serves such a wide service area — more than 10,000 square miles — that most of Northern New Mexico is now accessible by bus. The bus allows individuals to see the doctor, visit family in outlying communities, go to the courthouse in Tierra Amarilla and complete everyday tasks at the post office, bank and grocery store.

The other notable benefit of the RTD is how incredibly inexpensive it is. I commute daily on the Park and Ride Red Route to Santa Fe. I utilize the RTD paratransit service every afternoon. RTD picks me up at the Española Park and Ride lot and drives me home. The cost is a mere $1! Many rides are free. The fact that they keep prices so affordable means that this service is open and available to everyone.

Public transportation is an important component to the infrastructure of a successful community. Public transportation provides equal access to everyone, from school kids to the elderly and everyone in between. Public transportation provides freedom and a sense of independence that ultimately improves quality of life.

The reason I am writing this is because in November, the RTD will have a question on the ballot where voters will be asked whether they are for or against the County Regional Transit Gross Receipts Tax reauthorization. All of this means if we do not vote yes, we will very likely lose the RTD and its services as we know it.

Losing RTD service would be crippling for the valley. Connectivity to other communities in the region would be lost. Economic vitality would be threatened by the loss of access to jobs and goods and services. It would be a real hardship for a lot of citizens to lose accessibility in their community. It also would affect the lives of the 80 employees who are the face of this organization, from the administrative staff to the drivers and operators.

Please join me to vote yes Nov. 6 for the reauthorization of funding for RTD. People like me rely on it every day, and voting yes will not increase your taxes one penny. Without our support, this service will cease to exist, and many of us will be forced to quit our jobs and leave behind careers we have worked years and years to build — careers that support ourselves and our families. It would be a critical loss to Northern New Mexico.

Julie Blanke is a La Mesilla resident who works as a program and planning specialist at New Mexico MainStreet in Santa Fe.

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