Smooth ride for first day of Las Cruces-El Paso bus service

Smooth ride for first day of Las Cruces-El Paso bus service
By Steve Ramirez Sun-News reporter
Story by The Las Cruces Sun-News, published on Sept. 2, 2009

LAS CRUCES — For Las Cruces resident Fred Brown, the morning commute Tuesday included reading a book and taking a quick cat nap.

And, he got to work on time.

Brown, who works at Wells Fargo Bank in downtown El Paso, was afforded those luxuries because he was among the first Las Crucens to participate in the New Mexico Park and Ride program that has started commuter bus service between Las Cruces and El Paso.

“Having lived in California, I’m used to doing something like this,” Brown said. “I figure this is going to save me about $90 a month, and that’s not including the wear and
tear on my car.”

Las Cruces resident Edna Ledesma agreed; that’s why she’s already bought a monthly pass. She passed much of her time on the bus reading a book.
Brown and four other residents stood in a small circle outside of Las Cruces’ central terminal, at the former Amador Hotel, as they waited for the 6:30 a.m. bus to El Paso. But their wait wasn’t too long, and actually even shorter than anticipated. The bus to El Paso arrived two minutes ahead of schedule.

“That’s one of the things this company takes a lot of pride in, and that’s being on time,” said Jon Leno, a bus driver for All Aboard America, the contractor that operates New Mexico’s Park and Ride Program. “In northern New Mexico this service is always on time.”

Although the number of commuters who rode the bus Tuesday was small, there seemed to be little disappointment among All Aboard America officials. There hasn’t been any advertising of the new program, with the only notifications of the start of the commuter service coming from newspaper and television news stories.

“Once the word starts spreading it’ll pick up,” said Fred Ullom, general manager of All Aboard America.

There weren’t any major glitches on the first day. All of the departures and arrivals at New Mexico State University and in Las Cruces, Anthony, Texas, and El Paso were on time.

The buses are air conditioned and every seat is padded and can recline. All buses have a bathroom aboard.

Rush-hour traffic in El Paso was bumper-to-bumper and moved at a slow pace. But any thoughts of “road rage” were far away because the buses were able to avoid becoming tangled in the mesh of cars, trucks, SUVs, vans and commercial vehicles that swelled the freeway.

If anything, there were even a few smiles from some commuters at one particularly congested spot — Sunland Park Drive and Interstate 10. Buses going into El Paso got off at the Sunland Park Drive exit and drove along Paisano Drive instead of taking I-10 into downtown El Paso and the Union Plaza Transit Terminal, 400 W. San Antonio St.

“That will be the regular route,” said Leno, of traveling Paisano instead of I-10 between Sunland Park Drive and Executive Center. “Unless there’s an accident on the road, we’ll make it a point to avoid arriving late.”

Steve Ramirez can be reached at sramirez@lcsun-news.com; (575) 541-5452.

Rush-hour commute
• A one-way trip will cost $3 per person.
• A monthly pass to ride the bus to and from El Paso costs $90.
• Monthly passes can be purchased online at: www.nmparkandride.com, or at Brewer Chevron, 3040 N. Main St., and University Shell, 1304 S. Solano Drive.
• Each bus has 57 seats
• Bus seats are padded and can recline
• Every bus has a restroom.

Pick-up and drop off locations

Las Cruces

• Central terminal at the former Amador Hotel, 180 W. Amador Ave.
• New Mexico State University, parking lot east of the Pan American Center, on the northeast corner of NMSU’s International Mall and Payne Street

Anthony, Texas
• Lowes Big 8 parking lot, on the north side of Franklin Street;

El Paso
• Union Plaza Transit Terminal, 400 W. San Antonio St.

Departure times*
Las Cruces central terminal: 6 a.m., 6:45 a.m., 7:15 a.m., 8 a.m., 8:15 a.m., 4:30 p.m., 5:05 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 5:40 p.m., 6:45 p.m.;

Union Plaza Terminal Station in El Paso: 5:15 a.m., 5:40 a.m., 6:10 a.m., 7:10 a.m., 7:55 a.m., 4:25 p.m., 5:40 p.m., 6:25 p.m., 6:50 p.m.

*For a complete list of departure times from each location, go to www.nmparkandride.com.

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