The North Central Regional Transit District (NCRTD), operator of the RTD “Blue Bus,” and the Town of Taos will consolidate operations of the Taos Chile Line July 1, launching the RTD Chile Line.
The RTD Chile Line will provide fare-free bus transit service within the Town on the Red Route and UNM Route, as well as seasonal fare-based premium service to the Taos Ski Valley. The RTD Chile RIDE (formerly the Handi-Van) will provide free paratransit service within the town to ADA pre-qualified residents.
Upon evaluation of fiscal and operational impacts of the consolidation, the two parties have determined that it would be more cost-effective and efficient for the NCRTD to provide transit services on behalf of the Town.
“We’re very excited to see this come to fruition,” said Daniel R. Barrone, mayor of Taos and chair of the NCRTD. “We project that the consolidation of public transit services between the Town and the NCRTD will result in a retained cost savings for the Town of approximately $187,000 annually.”
NCRTD Vice Chair Miguel Chavez, Santa Fe County commissioner, added, “The Regional Transit District Act authorizes the NCRTD to finance, operate, maintain and promote sustainable multi-modal transportation in North Central New Mexico, and it pleases me to see governments working together to reduce costs and avoid duplication whenever possible.”
The NCRTD currently provides regional transit services throughout Taos County providing connecting options from those routes to the Chile Line for service within the Town. Those routes include Santa Fe, Española, Questa, Peñasco and Tres Piedras to Taos. On the District’s Red River route, service to the Town is provided through a connection in Questa.
In January, the NCRTD assumed operation of the Taos Express from the Town of Taos which became its first fare-based premium weekend express service. It operates between Santa Fe, Española and Taos.
The agreement provides for the transfer of all the Town’s transit assets to the NCRTD and will include the in-Town service called the Red Route, the UNM Route to the UNM-Taos Klauer campus and the Taos Ski Valley seasonal premium service.
The NCRTD expects to operate the in-town and UNM routes and services essentially, as is, for one year before assessing any modifications to improve efficiency. Any modifications to the Taos Ski Valley will be determined once conversations take place between the NCRTD and Village of Taos Ski Valley in the coming months. Any major changes to routes or services requires the approval of the NCRTD Board of Directors on which the Town of Taos is a member.
- FTA Section 5311 monies or commitments allocated to the Town as well as the Town’s matching contributions not yet expended. All funds are to be used solely for transit services in the Taos area. This also includes all other transit funding the Town has received from other sources that have not been expended.
- The Chile Line transit vehicles, including any records regarding vehicle maintenance, maintenance schedules, accident reports and similar records.
- The Town’s transit storage yard, maintenance facility and office located on Dea Lane in Taos.
- The Town’s Chile Line transit employees.
The agreement will add 14 full- and part-time employees to the NCRTD, which currently employs 55.
“Given the NCRTD’s proven capacity to provide public transportation throughout the region, we are confident that our experience, competency and commitment to service excellence will provide a great service on behalf of the Town of Taos and its residents and visitors,” NCRTD Executive Director Anthony Mortillaro said.
The North Central Regional Transit District provides free bus service Monday through Friday to a service area that encompasses over 10,000 square miles of north central New Mexico including the counties of Taos, Los Alamos, Rio Arriba and Santa Fe; the Cities of Santa Fe and Española and the Towns of Taos and Edgewood; as well as the Pueblos of Pojoaque, Ohkay Owingeh, Nambé, San Ildefonso, Santa Clara and Tesuque.
The company’s signature “RTD Blue Buses” provide additional transit connections to New Mexico Rail Runner, Santa Fe Trails, New Mexico Park and Ride, Los Alamos Atomic City Transit and Red River Miner’s Transit. All of its buses are equipped with bike racks and are ADA accessible.