Transit Tuesday: Kathryn Hall

Albuquerque, NM – Together for Brothers

I am an active member of Together for Brothers in Albuquerque.  I am proud to be part of an organization that helped push through zero fares and tries to make things better and safer for transit riders and bicyclists.  

I didn’t grow up in New Mexico but in 2018 I was on a bus to California with both service dogs, 2 carry-ons, my walking stick and more luggage underneath the bus.  The bus stopped in the middle of the night in Albuquerque, NM, got delayed and then canceled all together.  

There wasn’t another one for a week! By that time, my son who lived in Albuquerque had convinced me to stay to help him.  Eventually he left and moved to Omaha and my health got too bad to travel by bus.  Fortunately my brother came down and we got a 1 bedroom apartment together.

In 2009, I was diagnosed with COPD and fibromyalgia. Then In 2016 I was diagnosed, a bone disease, osteonecrosis. Right away they did the surgery on my left hip and eventually replaced it. Between that and carpal tunnel, I ended up having 2 surgeries on my left hip, 1 on my right hip and 2 on my left foot surgeries – in 7 years.  

I was a truck driver from when I was 13 years old until I was 37 years old when my doctor said I had to stop or I’d end up in a wheelchair.  A twin stick Mac Long Nose was the first truck I learned how to drive.

Now I am in a wheelchair, live in Albuquerque and am totally dependent on the bus. 2 friends have cars but they’re busy.  The SUN Vans provide para-transit but you have to make an appointment 3 days in advance and they can come 15 minutes early or 15 minutes late but they only have to wait 10 minutes.  I’ve been at the Doctors office waiting longer than expected for my appointment and the Sun van has left me stranded.

But the regular bus only has spots for 2 wheelchairs.  If they get filled, the bus doesn’t stop. One day I had to wait an hour and a half because 3 buses in a row passed me by.

The other issue is that they cut out the bus routes on Broadway and San Pedro completely because there aren’t enough drivers.  The drivers are expected to act as counselor, peacemaker, crowd control and driver.  That is a lot to ask.

My brother and I were on the bus going to get groceries at Walmart once when a supervisor got on the bus and the driver had to pull over. It turned out they had scheduled him on 2 twelve hour shifts with only a 3 hour break. It was noon of his second shift and he had already been driving since 6am.  The driver actually apologized to the riders for the interruption.  He said, “I don’t mind working but you know sleep is good, too!”

I had a job offer with Sprint out in Rio Rancho which is practically part of Albuquerque. I went out to the interview and training and they loved me. But I couldn’t afford to get there.  The SUN van would take me to the Cottonwood Mall but then I had to take a taxi to get the rest of the way to Sprint.  It was only 15 miles away but I couldn’t get there.  I had to turn down the job.  

I need to be able to get groceries, get to and from the doctor, visit friends and get to work.  But to do that, Albuquerque needs to increase frequency, safety, maintain route integrity, and add service throughout the city.

About Transit Stories

Transit Stories” is a series of real-life experiences with public transit in the U.S. We feature the first-hand experience of public transit riders from across the country. From large cities to small towns, we will document the experiences of the millions of users of busses, trains, ferries, and other forms of public transit in the US. Public transit is essential to our communities, to cooling the planet, to advancing equity. Transit is essential to our very lives.

There is a unique opportunity for the country to make a historic investment in public transit funding to help the country build back better. 

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