Sun Van passenger numbers soar amid driver shortages
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A wheelchair lift is something that makes CABQ Sun Vans stand apart from regular city buses.
Sun Vans offer service to disabled passengers in the metro, and recently the city says those passenger numbers are rising.
“For August, we hit 17,000, which was our highest ridership since the pandemic, which is huge. We were around 21,000 pre-pandemic,” said ABQ Ride Transit Director Leslie Keener.
Keener said she’s happy to see more people use the free service, but with the ongoing driver shortage, the transit department has been getting calls about longer wait times for pick-up.
“It’s a positive, but it is also putting a strain on the system that right now we’re having to manage through, we are looking at doing some things as far as online scheduling to help take some of the wait times off. In our call center,” she said.
She said a huge reason passenger numbers have jumped is the new way of qualifying for Sun Van services.
“One of the biggest hang-ups that we heard was that they have to actually go see their doctor to have the doctor fill out the form. And as you know, that’s been very difficult to get appointments and to get in to see your doctor to have that happen,” Keener said.
Now passengers can self-attest and fill out the qualification forms themselves.
Keener said a hiring event earlier this month has the department feeling optimistic, and Friday’s hiring event was looking good too.
The department is still hiring for drivers, mechanics, and other positions.
In the meantime, Keener said some regular bus routes are still suspended.