Navajo Nation, Farmington Celebrate Transit Agreement

Joelynn Ashley, director of the Navajo Nation Division of General Services, talks to public transportation riders Friday during a ceremony celebrating an agreement between Navajo Transit and the city of Farmington’s Red Apple Transit.

Published February 24, 2018

FARMINGTON, NEW MEXICO — The Navajo Nation and the city of Farmington on Friday formalized an agreement that allows Navajo Transit passengers to transfer to Farmington buses free of charge.

The Memorandum of Agreement, signed February 5, establishes two transfer points at which Navajo Transit passengers can board Farmington’s Red Apple buses (or vice versa) at no additional cost. The two transfer stations are at Hwy. 64 and County Road 6400 in Kirtland, and 1400 West Main St. in Farmington (west Walmart).

“This is a huge accomplishment,” Joelynn Ashley, director of the Navajo Nation Division of General Services, said during a ceremony Friday at the Walmart bus stop. “This means Navajo people will have an easier way to access medical services, attend school, purchase supplies or go to their jobs.”

The agreement strengthens the relationship between Farmington and neighboring Navajo communities, said Andrew Montoya, transit administrator for the city of Farmington. It also offers increased mobility for public transportation passengers and gives them better access to destinations across the country.

“Riders can come from anywhere on the Navajo Nation and transfer to Farmington buses,” Montoya said. “Because of our existing relationship with the North Central Regional Transit District, passengers in Farmington can transfer to the Santa Fe route, then take the rail to Albuquerque and hop on a Greyhound. From there, they can go anywhere.”

Navajo President Russell Begaye pointed to heavy traffic flowing from the Navajo Nation into Farmington every morning and returning at the end of the day. The transit agreement will make the commute easier and more affordable, he said.

“A lot of our revenue flows into Farmington, not only to the businesses but also to the schools,” President Begaye said. “San Juan College has a higher number of Navajo students than any other college, and we allocate more scholarship funds to Navajo students in Farmington than any other place.”

President Begaye said he hopes the MOA serves as a model for future agreements in other border towns. Each agreement means better mobility for passengers.

“This is something that has been needed for a long time and that is finally coming to fruition,” he said. “It will help our people who go every day into the border towns and surrounding areas.”

The agreement provides financial benefit to both transit programs by increasing ridership, Farmington Mayor Tommy Roberts said. The city’s public transportation system started in 1999 with a single route, but it now helps locals and visitors navigate a city that serves as an economic hub for as many as 300,000 people.

“This agreement represents an evolution of our public transportation system,” Mayor Roberts said. “This is a great benefit to all communities that are part of a system tied together politically, economically and socially. This is a partnership that will make all of our communities better.”

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