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Mith242

Rail Runner Express to start service fall 2006

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A new rail service will be starting up in Albuquerque this fall. The first three months will be free to get people out to try it. I'll be going out to Albuquqerque this fall and hopefully this will be in service so I can give it a try myself. There will be 9 stops, 3 in Albuquerque, 2 in pueblos, 3 in the neighboring communities of Belen, Los Lunas, and Bernalillo and then there will be one at the I-25 and Hwy 550 intersection. I've heard they want to extend the service northwards to Santa Fe. Not sure of a timetable but I was thinking I had heard someone mention maybe a year after it's started up around Albuquerque. Here's a route map, a pic and a link to their website.

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http://www.nmrailrunner.com/index.asp

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I remember seeing signs for this when I was in Downtown ABQ last year. It should be really nice to have a big rail system like this.

With ticket prices at $4 for a day pass, they're probably going to lose several million dollar per year. I don't see how they can afford this though.

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I remember seeing signs for this when I was in Downtown ABQ last year. It should be really nice to have a big rail system like this.

With ticket prices at $4 for a day pass, they're probably going to lose several million dollar per year. I don't see how they can afford this though.

Yeah I was a bit surprised when I heard more about this too. Looks like a great system but I'm just not sure how it's going to work out very well. Maybe it's harder for me to judge because I only visit and don't live there. But it just seems to be more of the type of city where people usually heavily rely on vehicles because the city is so spread out. Of course in one aspect that could help people use it. Maybe it will be used a lot by many of the Native Americans in the area, epecially since it does go to two of the Pueblos there in the area. Not trying to say Native Americans aare lower class or anything. But you do seem to have a higher percentage that at least try to live a more simpler traditional rustic life. Not having to have an automobile might be viewed as more possible with a service like this. I do guess there's a fine line on what to charge. I wouldn't be surprised if they raise it in the near future. Maybe they are keeping it down trying to lure more people into using it. That might be the main thing they're concerned about initially is just getting people to try it and use it.

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I remember seeing signs for this when I was in Downtown ABQ last year. It should be really nice to have a big rail system like this.

With ticket prices at $4 for a day pass, they're probably going to lose several million dollar per year. I don't see how they can afford this though.

It will increase the value of the land around every stop along the way. Business will spring up along the route like wildfire.

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It will increase the value of the land around every stop along the way. Business will spring up along the route like wildfire.

True, I just hope things work out. I'm trying not to be pessimistic but I'm curious to see if this is going to work. Not only if people will accept it but also if this venture is going to make enough money to stay in business. But I'm hoping it works out. I'd also really like to see it extended to Santa Fe.

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I'd also really like to see it extended to Santa Fe.

That certainly makes sense, with the amount of people that travel between the two cities. I'd like to see a full New Mexico rail. Las Cruces (maybe El Paso to connect with Amtrak) to Las Vegas. Places like Socorro and Las Vegas have so many travelling to ABQ on a regular basis, just the traffic going to and from the airport should be something.

Maybe that's a little unrealistic, though.

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That certainly makes sense, with the amount of people that travel between the two cities. I'd like to see a full New Mexico rail. Las Cruces (maybe El Paso to connect with Amtrak) to Las Vegas. Places like Socorro and Las Vegas have so many travelling to ABQ on a regular basis, just the traffic going to and from the airport should be something.

Maybe that's a little unrealistic, though.

Yeah that certainly would be great but I also don't know how well that would work. Like I said before I'm still curious to see how well things work just in Albuquerque.

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It's too bad that I missed the opening day, but a lot of the construction is already done.

Downtown Rail Station. No changes here. No signs.

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US 550 station in Bernalillo:

Entrance from US 550. The traffic signal was recently installed but hasn't been turned on yet:

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Other station pics. The US 550 bridge is visible in the background:

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Thanks for the pics Colin. I'm going back out to Albuquerque this Sept. I plan on trying out the Rail Runner.

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I talked to my family and heard a few details about the Rail Runner. It's been open for a while now but they only have three stops at the moment. The downtown Albuquerque, the Los Ranchos (North Valley) and one of the Bernalillo stops. Not sure if it's the downtown Bernalillo or the US 550 stop. Sounds like they've been averaging around 4,000 to 5,000 a day. Not sure how that compares to what they were expecting. I suppose things might improve when they get some of the other stops open. I think they will try to get the other ones on the map open later this year. I also got the impression that they might go ahead with plans on the extension to Santa Fe. It sounds like having the Rail Runner extended to Santa Fe would be cheaper than widening I-25 and that they were going to try for that option instead. Just what I heard.

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Service to Santa Fe is expected to start in 2008. They have came to the conclusion that constructing commuter rail is the preffered analysis rather than widening I-25. THANK GOD! MORE RAIL SERVICE IN THE US!!!!

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THANK GOD! MORE RAIL SERVICE IN THE US!!!!

Amen!

I agree, Santa Fe is too connected to Albuquerque culturally for the two to not be linked by a mass transit.

According to the official site, Downtown Bernalillo and Los Lunas are both still not open. US 550/Bernalillo, however, is now open. It was basically ready to go when I was there (the pictures above), so I'm not surprised that it's open already.

Site

Los Lunas, Belen and Downtown Bernalillo are expected to open in August ("Late Summer"), while the Sunport, Isleta and Sandia stations are estimated to open near year-end. Schedule adjustments (i.e. - more trains running) will also occur between now and then based on ridership.

Let's certainly hope that this is successful, as it will set a standard for the rest of the Metro Southwest.

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Amen!

I agree, Santa Fe is too connected to Albuquerque culturally for the two to not be linked by a mass transit.

According to the official site, Downtown Bernalillo and Los Lunas are both still not open. US 550/Bernalillo, however, is now open. It was basically ready to go when I was there (the pictures above), so I'm not surprised that it's open already.

Site

Los Lunas, Belen and Downtown Bernalillo are expected to open in August ("Late Summer"), while the Sunport, Isleta and Sandia stations are estimated to open near year-end. Schedule adjustments (i.e. - more trains running) will also occur between now and then based on ridership.

Let's certainly hope that this is successful, as it will set a standard for the rest of the Metro Southwest.

Thanks for the added info. Guess it would have helped if I had checked the website before I posted my info. :lol: But I was just going off info from my relatives who live there. I'm not sure what kind of transit they have set up in Santa Fe. But if there was a decent bus service or something I think this could work out well with the tourists. Many, especially the foreign ones tend to fly in to Albuquerque and then have to rent a car to get to Santa Fe. I suppose if the stop was in downtown Santa Fe it could still be rather successful. There's quite a bit within walking distance from the historical downtown area. But a good bus service would still probably help out even more.

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I'll be in Albuquerque next week and will be trying out the Rail Runner so I hope to have some more info and pics. I recently heard the Governor Richardson is wanting to try to extend it not only to Santa Fe but also to Espanola and Taos. It would be interesting but I'm not sure there'd be enough demand to justify the costs of going all the way to Taos. I think Albuqerque-Santa Fe is where most of the intercity traffic is going to occur.

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Espanola and Taos??

That is awesome!! The next step is only the southern leg down to Las Cruces and El Paso.

Who would have thought that New Mexico would be the pioneer of regional rail in the Mountain West?

I'll certainly look forward to some pictures of the trains and such, Mith.

Thanks!

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Espanola and Taos??

That is awesome!! The next step is only the southern leg down to Las Cruces and El Paso.

Who would have thought that New Mexico would be the pioneer of regional rail in the Mountain West?

I'll certainly look forward to some pictures of the trains and such, Mith.

Thanks!

Well that's what the governor is pushing, not sure if it will happen. But yeah a southern leg would be interesting as well. Maybe have stops at Socorro, Las Cruces and El Paso. Unfortunately there's anot a whole lot between Las Cruces and Albuquerque. Not sure if that would make it harder to get enough riders to even make something like this feasible. Like I said before I'm not sure how Santa Fe to Espanola and Taos would work out. But first things first, they need to get it expanded to Santa Fe.

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Finally got to try the new Rail Runner. Granted only three stations were ready at the time. I believe another three will open later this year. Not sure when the rest will open. The Bernalillo/US 550, Los Ranchos/Journal Center, and downtown Albuquerque stations were the only ones open on my visit. Ironically the downtown station still has quite a bit of work to be done on it. I had forgotten that these are double decker trains. They were also a bit faster than what I thought. Just estimating I believe at some points it got up to around 60-70 mph. Although I was disappointed in that it wasn't very fast at all anytime it got around the southern half of the route. But it was interesting and I look forward to seeing it again when some more stations are open. I'll post some pics of the downtown Alvarado Station a little later.

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Here's some shots of the Alvarado Station in downtown Albuquerque. It looks to be mainly used as the main bus terminal for Albuquerque. Which will make it a very useful stop for the Rail Runner. The Alvarado was built in the late 1800's or early 1900's. It originally was a railroad station/hotel/retail complex. It eventually fell into disuse. In the 60's attempts were made to dave it but no one plan could be decided on so most of it was torn down. But apparently some of it was saved and eventually it was built onto using some of the original designs and now serves it's current function. I believe some offices and such also use the building. I have to apologize about the quality of the pics. I was having problems with the lighting with the clouds and the angle of the sun.

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Awesome! Thanks for posting.

The train looks really nice and I'm very happy to see that many people riding it. What day of the week was this on?

So you just rode Downtown and back? Were the lots fairly crowded at the Park & Ride stations?

Now you've made me want to go back to ABQ just to ride it.

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Awesome! Thanks for posting.

The train looks really nice and I'm very happy to see that many people riding it. What day of the week was this on?

So you just rode Downtown and back? Were the lots fairly crowded at the Park & Ride stations?

Now you've made me want to go back to ABQ just to ride it.

I rode it to all the stops. But some of them we stopped at for only s hort amount of time and didn't really have time to take pics. That and those areas weren't really places to stop over and take pics and wait till the next train. I mainly was just wanting to focus my attention on downtown. I've had a hard time getting my family who live out there to take an interest in the downtown area. Guess they just aren't city people. I rode it on a Wednesday. There were people using it but they're still in their early promotion stage. Not sure when they're going to start charging. Maybe a little while after they get several more stops opened. But there were a decent amount of people at all the stops, even the smaller ones not around the downtown. Right now the downtown don't even have benches or anything near the train stop. You have them around the Alvarado Station but those are more for the buses. If you tried to sit there you might have a hard time getting to the train before it left. You could see where they were going to put some in though. If you weren't serious about wanting to ride it sometime I'd wait a little longer if possible till they had a few more stops available. They also only have it running during certain parts of the day. Early morning, around noon and the late afternoon. Not sure if that's going to change or not. I suppose it might have something to do with how much interest there is in it. It was faster than I thought. We seemed to really whip through the northern parts of Albuquerque. The only thing I was a bit disappointed in was that it seemed to really be a bit slow around the downtown areas for some reason. The train cars themselves were pretty nice. I had forgotten these were double deckers.

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Here's my poor lazy excuse of altering a map to show which stations of open. :lol: Their website claims the rest of the stations will be open later this year. I got the impression though that they might not all open at the same time though.

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system_map.gif

Thought I'd give some updates on how things are going. Sounds like Belen was just recently added to list of opened stops. The downtown Bernalillo stop should be open in March. The Rio Bravo station should be open in April. That will leave the Isleta Pueblo and Sandia Pueblo stations opening up sometime over the summer. Then the next phase will start by extending the service all the way to Santa Fe. That isn't scheduled to be completed till late 2008.

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Thanks for posting this info about the Rail Runner, Mith242! And, yes, the Belen station opened last week. I love the Rail Runner, but have only taken rides on it a few times. I live in Downtown Albuquerque and very rarely need to go where it goes. My step-dad rides it much more often to his work, though. Which is good, 'cause I've always worried that it would mainly serve as a 'tourist attraction' kind of thing, with locals mostly not using it. I do think it's a great asset for Central New Mexico, hopefully one day it will be the first choice for people commuting or traveling in the area.

Plans also were recently announced to expand the city's Rapid Ride bus sytem. Light rail within the city seems to be at least a few years away. I do ride the bus a lot in town (mainly along the Central corridor), and I hope that one day all our transit will be more inter-connected and well used.

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