Albuquerque, N.M., Uses Virtual Reality to Promote New Rapid Transit Station

The virtual-reality project is aimed at helping people grow comfortable with the concept of bus stops in the middle of the roadway. The traditional setup is to have a curbside stop on each side of the road.

by Dan McKay, Albuquerque Journal, N.M. / July 5, 2016
Tour available here

(TNS) -- The city has a new way to promote its Albuquerque Rapid Transit project during neighborhood meetings — a virtual reality tour of one of the bus stations.

It’s like stepping into a rendering. With a smartphone inserted into a cardboard headset, viewers can now get a 360-degree look at what it’s like to stand in a new ART station in the middle of Central Avenue.

Brandon Garrett, an associate with Dekker Perich Sabatini, which is working on the rapid transit project, said the goal is to help people see for themselves what designers envision.

“It’s hard to imagine yourself in that space,” he said of architectural renderings. Virtual reality “is a powerful tool.”

The city will show off the virtual tour at meetings with neighborhood associations. Groups that want a presentation on Albuquerque Rapid Transit can call the project hotline at 505-398-4ART.

The virtual-reality project is aimed at helping people grow comfortable with the concept of bus stops in the middle of the roadway. The traditional setup is to have a curbside stop on each side of the road.

But the Albuquerque Rapid Transit design calls for putting most stations in what’s now the median of the roadway. People would use crosswalks to get to the stations — where they can buy tickets and wait for the ART bus to arrive.

Bus-only lanes run on each side of the station, so people heading in either direction wait for the bus at the same spot.

Altogether, the $119 million project would create a nine-mile network of dedicated bus lanes and canopy-covered stations along Central Avenue, between Louisiana and Coors.

Construction on the project could start in August.

Opponents, however, are asking a federal judge to order a halt to the project, and the city has not yet received final approval for a crucial federal grant that would pay for most of the work.

A court hearing is scheduled in late July. Online

A link to the virtual reality tour is available at brtabq.com. Scroll down under the “Transit for our future” title.

For a video of ART in 3-D and the virtual tour, go to ABQJournal.com

©2016 the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.