Public Transportation Removes Barriers, Provides Access
Richard J. Bailey, President, Northern New Mexico College
At Northern New Mexico College, we pride ourselves on removing barriers to access to higher education opportunities. For example, even with all of our nationally recognized and accredited programs, we are still hands down the most affordable four-year college in all of the Southwest United States. We know we have to do that because of the community we serve. We know the demographic that makes up our student body, and we work with all of our students to make sure they have access to a high-quality education by offering scholarships, financial aid and work-study opportunities.
Transportation can be particularly prohibitive for prospective college students. Many of our students, whether they are experienced adults or are just graduating high school, don’t have funds to spend on a car payment, insurance, gas and maintenance. But the North Central Regional Transit District (NCRTD) helps us remove that barrier for many, who take advantage of the transit’s Blue Buses to get to and from classes. With our current lack of student housing, all of our students must commute. Public transit is one of the reasons we have been so successful as a college and why we continue to grow.
Northern New Mexico College primarily serves rural communities from within a 40-mile radius of our campuses in Española and El Rito, including eight Native American pueblos. Luckily, the NCRTD covers a total of 10,000 square miles, connecting more than 70 communities and pueblos throughout Santa Fe, Los Alamos, Rio Arriba and Taos counties.
I fear that if NCRTD loses funding, and many of our students have to find other ways to travel, we may lose students. It is why the NCRTD is so important to our mission to create pathways for more Northern New Mexicans to gain access to higher education opportunities.
On behalf of your local college, and our students, please consider voting YES to reauthorize funding for the NCRTD this November. Voting yes will not increase taxes. We really appreciate it – and we really appreciate all of you!