For the past 30 years, I have worked statewide and locally to address natural resource issues such as land use, water planning, forest planning and transit. Throughout the 1990s, transit was a pressing issue for Santa Fe and the surrounding communities. When I traveled the state, officials from all corners of the state were focused on transit. That is largely because transit is a regional issue for many communities.
We are a rural state, and public transit provides the opportunity for seamless connectivity between communities. For those living in rural areas of New Mexico, transit creates opportunity for people to attend school, go to work and get medical care. While some might argue that this only benefits a small portion of the community, it benefits us all.
It is certainly a social justice issue, as it provides those without vehicles a way to travel, but it is much broader than that. Well-functioning transit systems — like the North Central Regional Transit District, or NCRTD, or Blue Bus — create a seamless transportation system to connect communities for economic development. Not only does transit allow for people to get to jobs, school, medical appointments or to run errands, but it also brings in people to communities to increase economic development.
The two work hand in hand. When people are able to work, they are paying local taxes. When they are using transit to go shopping or to run errands, they are boosting the local economy. Transit allows for this type of economic growth and paves the way for future economic development. Additionally, transit benefits our state by reducing our carbon footprint. We can all reduce the use of cars that are a harmful impact on the environment by taking public transit more often than relying upon a personal vehicle.
There is no question that public transit serves a vital need in the rural communities across New Mexico, as well as forging mutually beneficial connections between rural communities and their surrounding larger communities. The Blue Bus is part of this vital need. Having been involved with the organization from its inception, I can attest to the fact that it is doing a magnificent job of creating seamless community connections.
In voting yes, you are voting to renew the tax — not to add to taxes. Additionally, you will be voting yes to keep an award-winning and incredible organization moving forward. It would be a great detriment to our communities to dismantle the work NCRTD has done to connect people in rural Northern New Mexico to jobs, school, medical services and more.
NCRTD helps make our communities healthier, helps to strengthen education and helps to boost local economies. As you go to the polls this November, it is my hope you will consider these basic needs of our communities and vote for reauthorization of funding for the Blue Bus. It takes all of us.
Rosemary Romero is a former Santa Fe city councilor.