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2024 State Legislative Agenda

No, your calendar isn’t wrong; it is still fall 2023, but now is the time to lay the groundwork for a successful legislative session next year. The upcoming budgetary surplus to the tune of $3 billion provides the state an opportunity to make transformational investments in statewide alternative transportation infrastructure. Quality alternative transportation—bicycle, walking, bus, and train—supports many statewide goals: 

  • Saves households money by reducing car necessity; these savings persist beyond the current year and can quickly surpass the amount of an equivalent tax rebate

  • Supports New Mexico environmental goals, particularly salient given the source of the budgetary surplus is through the sale of polluting fossil fuels

  • Increases transportation resiliency by increasing the quantity of transportation options, mitigating the effect that high gas prices, winter storms, or airline glitches have on New Mexicans’ mobility

  • Saves lives by making streets safer and reducing the number of cars on the road, a priority when New Mexico has the highest rate of pedestrian fatalities in the country.


This vision of transportation investments is tailored to the 2024 New Mexico legislative session. In even years, the New Mexico legislature meets for 30 days and primarily considers budgetary issues. To this end, the investments here are both simple and exclusively monetary. While there are certainly programs, regulations, and laws that we support to improve transportation in New Mexico, we’ll have the most success pursuing those in 2025. 


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Without further ado, our legislative agenda asks for a $950 million investment split roughly equally across roads, transit, and rail in the state.

Roads: $310 Million

New Mexico has consistently had the most dangerous roads in the country for pedestrians, and injuries and fatalities for cyclists and even motorists are also well above the national average. This isn’t just an Albuquerque or urban issue either: in 2021, 49% of crashes in the state occurred outside our five largest cities.


To make our statewide roads safer for all users, we are asking for

  • $150 million for bicycle and pedestrian safety infrastructure along NMDOT roads, like Coors Blvd (NM 45) in Albuquerque and 7th St (NM 518) in Las Vegas.

  • $150 million for local grants to build bicycle and pedestrian safety infrastructure across the state.

  • $10 million for an e-bike rebate for all New Mexicans, with increased rebate amounts for low-income residents and for cargo e-bikes.


2018 Statewide Priority Network for building safer bicycle facilities for both transportation and recreation

The state has developed plans for pedestrian safety and bicycle networks, but as of 2021 those plans are only 22% funded. These investments would help close that gap, as well as support the surrounding communities by funding protected intersections, raised crosswalks, traffic calming, protected bicycle lanes, bicycle sidepaths and multiuse trails, and other Complete Streets safety improvements.

In addition to road safety improvements, this money would also be available to fund projects supporting secure bicycle storage and charging, as well as road surface quality for roads that have the previously-mentioned safety infrastructure.

Transit: $325 million

Statewide transit systems have aging vehicles, equipment and facilities, which interfere with agencies’ ability to offer the transportation services New Mexicans across the state rely on. About a third of revenue vehicles in our state’s smaller communities—Carlsbad, Roswell, Laguna Pueblo, Zuni Pueblo, and several others—are past their useful life benchmark. In our larger cities, the ongoing switch to electric buses will require new maintenance infrastructure, which compounds issues the agencies face as their maintenance facilities age.


To this end, we are asking for:

  • $225 million for statewide non-rail transit capital investments

  • $100 million in a statewide transit operations trust fund


Establishing a transit operations trust fund ensures that during times of economic hardship—when budgets are tight at both the personal and governmental levels—cuts to transit service can be avoided as much as possible. The capital investments will fill the funding gap identified in the New Mexico 2045 plan, increasing efficiency and aiding the transition to electrified transit vehicles.


Aside from providing mobility within various communities across the state, these transit services also form the core of intercity mobility in the state. Statewide transit services connect smaller communities both to each other and to the amenities in our larger communities, providing additional and more efficient transportation opportunities. These capital and operating investments also provide a firmer foundation for future expansions to statewide transit services, if desired.

Map of statewide (non-local) transit services (higher resolution in the state's Transit Guide)

Rail: $315 million

The New Mexico Rail Runner is the crown jewel of our intercity transportation system, and performs reasonably well compared to other regions’ rail systems in terms of ridership and frequencies when considering the population served. As a comparison, the Capitol Corridor route between San Jose and Sacramento serves a population about four times larger than the Belén-Albuquerque-Santa Fe region yet only sees about 50% more ridership. The rail service also provides an important alternative to traveling on the I-25, which can sporadically be blocked or congested due to weather, construction, and accidents. Improving the quality of Rail Runner service also compounds current and future investments to the downtowns of Albuquerque and Santa Fe. 


Rio Metro has identified some currently-unfunded capital improvements that would allow for hourly service and increased reliability, which form the core of our ask for rail investments:

  • $200 million to build rail sidings and purchase additional rolling stock to allow for hourly service and additional reliability

  • $100 million in a statewide rail operations trust fund

  • $15 million for expanded rail service planning


In addition to investments in the Rail Runner, we would like to begin planning for expanding rail service across the state. The Federal Railroad Administration is undergoing two expansions to the national rail network: CorridorID, adding additional state-supported routes (<750 miles); and the Long Distance study, to add additional federally-funded long-distance routes (>750 miles)---Colorado has also been considering whether to extend its proposed Front Range route down into New Mexico. While it appears that the state did not submit any routes to the CorridorID program, New Mexico is poised to benefit heavily from the long-distance study—you can read more about that in an earlier blog post. State rail service can incentivize and take advantage of rail infrastructure investments the federal programs entail, and supplement the service with increased frequencies and local service.


Similar to the previous section, a rail operations trust fund ensures that existing Rail Runner service is less susceptible to economic downturns, and will also form a foundation for expanded rail service in the state.

Current concept network being analyzed by the Federal Railroad Administration

What next?

Getting this priority across the finish line in the Roundhouse will require a broad coalition of supporters. BikeABQ has been reaching out to our contacts in organizations across the state to build support, but we can’t do this alone. If you know an organization or business that agrees with our vision, please reach out to us! Beyond that, reaching out to your state representatives and senators and relaying this vision is useful for anyone to do.

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