Bloomfield cancels Red Apple Transit contract

Starting Oct. 1, the route between Farmington and Bloomfield will no longer operate

Joshua Kellogg
jkellogg@daily-times.com
A Red Apple Transit bus droves down South First Street in Bloomfield on Tuesday. Beginning Oct. 1, the Red Apple Transit route that transports passengers between Farmington and Bloomfield will no longer operate.

BLOOMFIELD — The city of Bloomfield has canceled its contract with the city of Farmington for bus transportation through Red Apple Transit.

In a post on the city of Bloomfield’s Facebook page on Monday, the city announced it will no longer subsidize bus services after Sept. 30 due to a continuing decline in tax revenue. Starting Oct. 1, the Red Apple Transit route that transports passengers three times a day between Farmington and Bloomfield will no longer operate.

Bloomfield's contract for Red Apple Transit's services was one of the items that had to be eliminated to balance the city's budget, according to City Manager Eric Strahl.

"The council and staff had some tough decisions to make," Strahl said.

City officials have been working to cut about $1.3 million from the budget for the current fiscal year. Measures taken to balance the budget have included a 3.46 percent pay cut for city employees.

Strahl said Bloomfield is among the cities in the New Mexico that were hit the hardest by a recent decline in the oil and gas industry, which has led to a drop in revenue from gross receipts taxes.

"A significant amount of our local economy is tied in oil and gas," Strahl said.

Without cutting bus transit services, Strahl said the city might have to cut into the budgets for its fire, police or public works department.

A Red Apple Transit bus waits on Tuesday at a stop on South First Street in Bloomfield. In an effort to balance its budget, the city of Bloomfield has canceled its contract with Red Apple Transit for bus transportation services.

The cancellation of bus services will affect Dina Cooke, who rode the bus after work this afternoon from Bloomfield to Farmington.

"It’s going to affect me big time," Cooke said. "I hate to see the bus stop coming."

Cooke said she is dependent on the bus route. In the past, Cooke said she has hitchhiked along U.S. Highway 64 to return to Farmington if she missed the afternoon bus.

The contract for Red Apple Transit services costs the city of Bloomfield about $12,000 a year, said Andrew Montoya, transit administrator with the city of Farmington.

The route currently operates three times a day Monday through Saturday. It starts at the Orchard Plaza stop in Farmington, near the intersection of East Main Street and Farmington Avenue, and then heads toward Bloomfield.

The bus makes several stops along Wildflower Parkway and U.S. Highway 64 before arriving in Bloomfield. Some of the Bloomfield bus stops include Blake’s Lotaburger, Bloomfield Municipal Court and the Bloomfield Cultural Center.

A sign posted Tuesday at a bus stop at South First Street in Bloomfield alerts passengers that starting Oct. 1 the Red Apple Transit route between Farmington and Bloomfield will no longer operate.

About 5,100 people boarded the Red Apple buses on the Bloomfield route last year, Montoya said. Ridership for the entire Red Apple Transit system last year was about 131,000 passengers.

Montoya said cancellation of the contract will not have a major effect on Red Apple Transit's operations. The two dedicated drivers who drive the Bloomfield route will be assigned to new routes, he said.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.