LAS CRUCES – The South Central Regional Transit District has received approval from the El Paso City Council to begin running bus service into that city.

Executive Director David Armijo said they now have all of the government approvals needed — including from the federal government, since the new route will cross the state line — and he hopes to have the service running by the first week of January.

The new service will extend the existing Purple route, which now runs from Anthony to Sunland Park. There will be two stops in El Paso, at the Westside Transit Center on Remcon Circle and the Northgate Transit Center in the northeast part of El Paso. From there, riders will be able to take Sun Metro buses to just about anywhere in the city.

“You’ll actually have a situation where you can take either the Red or the Blue line, connect on the Purple line in Anthony four times in the morning and four times in the afternoon, and you can then go all the way to Sunland Park and it will now go into the Westside Transit Center where you can connect with 13 bus lines and go anywhere you want to go in El Paso at that point,” Armijo said.

The expanded service will also connect those living in Chaparral to transportation options in El Paso and New Mexico.

“A lot of people in Chaparral really need to get to El Paso,” Armijo said. “People in Chaparral know we’re there, and so I think the ridership will jump very quickly.”

Armijo said that in the new year he also wants to expand transportation options for residents in the county through the federal V-Ride program, which uses vans instead of buses.

“We’re working with V-Ride in El Paso. They run service from Sunland Park to Deming on a van pool, but they run almost no van pools at all in Las Cruces, and they have not been able to capture this market,” he said.

V-Rides may be the answer for getting more New Mexico workers to jobs in the growing Santa Teresa industrial parks, said Sharon Thomas, citizen advisory member to the SCRTD board and a former member of the Las Cruces City Council.

“We have talked to Jerry Pacheco (president of the Border Industrial Association) about this, and he was willing to find a couple of companies that already have employees in Anthony or Sunland Park that we can start doing a plot project with the vans,” Thomas said. “NM (Department of Transportation) really wants to see that happen. When you go to Santa Teresa and see the parking lot, it’s all white Texas license plates.”

The other planned expansion in the coming year will be to extend service north to Hatch at the end of the year, Armijo said.

“The only thing we won’t be doing as of next October when we go to Hatch is we’re not going to Sierra County,” Armijo said. “It may not be as frequent of service, but it will be a pretty broad framework. We’ll be covering all of Dona Ana County.”

Credit- Las Cruces Sun News article here