rail runner


V.25 No.49 | 12/08/2016

Anniversary Interview

Featuring The Little Engine That Did

To celebrate our 25th year properly here at the Weekly Alibi, we're conducting a series of interviews with local businesses and institutions that we've grown with and that have contributed to the growth of our wonderful city.

Our second interview isn't an interview at all. Staff Writer Joshua Lee claims he tried to speak with an actual train, but that the beast was too focused on its job to bother with conversation. Instead, he did some digging to find out how this 13-year-old project came about ...

Hey, Millenials! Can you believe there was actually a time when people had to drive to Santa Fe? In their own cars, no less! Well, gather around, kids, it's time your Uncle Joshie told you a little story about a Governor who had a dream no one wanted to see realized. This here's the tale of the N.M. Rail Runner Express (or what I like to call “The Little Engine That Did”):

Back in 2003, a passenger rail line was still just a thought hovering over the minds of the state's leaders. Governor Bill Richardson—who would go on to serve as US Ambassador to the United Nations, Energy Secretary for the Clinton administration and even a presidential candidate for a few moments after being the Governor of New Mexico for two terms (he was also part of a corruption scandal involving some dirty campaign money)—pushed to get the Runner built using state highway funds. That year, NMDOT and MRCOG received federal grants for the project and the State Legislature passed a bill for transportation improvement that included the Rail Runner.

The big idea was to build a rail service that would connect the major urban centers along the Central New Mexico corridor, pumping some much-needed funds into the state while making travel for taxpayers cheaper and easier. In 2006, the Rail Runner officially went into service. It connected ABQ to Sandoval County, and all under a cute and sleek brand. The track was built mostly on existing freight lines and by 2008, it reached Santa Fe and cost nearly $400 million.

But by 2010, ticket sales started dropping, and the state's Republicans were starting to grumble about the money involved. “Where are the people who are supposed to be riding this thing?” They asked. And the drain on the transportation budget was affecting road maintenance. But the line was never killed.

However, as recently as 2015, the Department of Transportation was being criticized for the fact that the Runner was clearly making less money than it was spending. And despite the free WiFi and modern design, my neighbor told me riding on it was “gross.”

“What do you mean?” I asked him.

“I don't know” He shrugged. “It's just gross.”

I don't know if he's really the most reliable source, to be honest. I have the suspicion that he probably never set foot on the Runner. And here's the deal: You'll never know until you ride the thing.

Maybe it's just the survivor syndrome talking, but I get the feeling that people around here maybe exaggerate some things a little. Tell you what. I'll make a deal with you. Pack a lunch, spend a day on the rails, and if you come home pissed off, write your congresswoman about it and tell her that Uncle Joshie really pissed on your day.

Here: I'll make it easy for you.

Fares:

The amount passengers pay for a ticket will be determined by the distance they travel. There are six zones along the 100-mile corridor between Santa Fe and the City of Belen. To figure out your fare, count how many zones you will be traveling through using the map and chart. Youths ages 10-17, students with a valid ID, seniors over the age of 62 and those with disabilities pay reduced fares. (Example: Riding from Downtown ABQ to the Santa Fe Depot means you cross five zones. That's $9 for a one-way trip or $10 for a day pass.)

Stations:

There are six stations in the ABQ metro zone. Starting from the south:

Isleta Pueblo (NM Highway 47 and Tribal Road 15, Isleta Pueblo)
Bernalillo County (113 Rio Bravo SE)
Downtown ABQ (100 First Street SW)
Montaño (130 Montaño Road NW)
Los Ranchos/Journal Center (101 El Pueblo NE)
Sandia Pueblo (NM Highway 313 and NM Highway 556, Sandia Pueblo)





V.24 No.30 | 7/23/2015
Ty Bannerman

Summer Dining

Santa Fe-Cation

Board the Rail Runner for a dining-heavy day trip to our state’s capital

No time or money for a big excursion this year? Board the Rail Runner for a mini-vacation to the City Different.
V.23 No.42 | 10/16/2014

news

The Daily Word in Banksy, Snowden and clowns with knives.

The Daily Word

Does Yelp extort advertising from restaurants?

Ebola is the scariest outbreak of modern times.

Snowden’s thoughts on privacy in the digital age are worth pondering.

The driverless car is coming and you can’t stop it.

The vinyl re-release of the Ghostbusters soundtrack is marshmallow-scented.

Learn how to rob a bank from an expert.

“This is a little song I wrote about the time a female Eagles fan stole my prosthetic leg and the cops got it back for me.”

Someone drew a penis on a Banksy mural.

Bakersfield police are on the lookout for creepy clowns with knives.

Balloon Fiesta is over.

The site of a deadly Rail Runner crash was littered with uncollected body parts.

What’s happening in Albuquerque today?

Happy birthday, Marie Osmond.

V.23 No.41 |

news

The Daily Word in a Burger King attack, haunted houses and a scary teacher

The Daily Word

Feeling antsy? Head to the San Gabriel Mountains outside Los Angeles. President Obama just declared them a national monument. So they'll still be there.

A man from New York was released from prison after serving 15 years for assault, but he was shot 15 minutes later. He's currently recovering in the hospital.

Apparently, it's okay to have a haunted house. But it's not okay to have a room dedicated to serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

Hiker Paula Reuter, who'd been missing for three days after she went for a hike in the Washington Mountains, was found alive and well. She survived on mushrooms and tree bark.

MMA fighter Jason “Mayhem” Miller finally surrendered after an hours-long SWAT stand-off in Orange County.

This morning, a crash involving the Rail Runner left two people dead. This story is still being updated.

A Santa Fe teacher from El Camino Real Academy has been placed on leave after allegedly threatening to kill a student.

Many state employees are learning that just because the courts order back paychecks doesn't mean they're going to show up.

Two swatting incidents happened in ABQ in September. Authorities want the public to know it's not a prank and can be fatal.

A man is suing Burger King after the manager of one of its locations attacked him with a stun gun and switchblade for complaining about cold onion rings.

V.23 No.16 |

news

The Daily Word in horrible mutilations, further annexations and Albuquerque city council quandaries

The Daily Word

Top of the list of "unexpected beer cities? Albuquerque, por supuesto.

The suspect shot by APD yesterday was a woman.

City council is gearing up to kill the Albuquerque Police Oversight Commission in order to create a new system of checks and balances vis a vis citizenry and APD.

A bicyclist was killed Saturday when she was hit by the Rail Runner in Santa Fe.

Among steep competition, rapper Andre Johnson may have committed the most bizarre musician suicide attempt ever. Ever.

Netflix is introducing another kinda-weird price increase.

Sometimes "refined" means fart jokes.

Controversial State of Michigan decision prohibiting race based college entrance was upheld by the SCOTUS.

Crimea is getting strange and Russia is a master of propaganda.

Nothing wrong with thinking about Nudie suits folks.

V.23 No.14 |

news

The Daily Word in spraypainting APD substations, weird recreational drugs and RIP Peaches Geldof

The Daily Word

City Council chambers overflowed with largely critical citizens at the APD meeting last night.

Three APD substations were vandalized last night.

The DOJ will announce its findings about APD and patterns of excessive/lethal force tomorrow at 10:00 am.

There is a new Rail Runner stop.

Bob Geldof's hard-partying daughter, Peaches Geldof, died suddenly and inexplicably.

Do you know about "boyfriend twins"?

.... How about "nipple shields for men"?

What do you know about the old TV show ALF?

Malaysian Flight 370 is in really deep water.

Time for a Chupacabra roundup.

40 percent of Americans couldn't raise 2,000 dollars if their lives depended on it.

There is an ABBA choir.

Since the Snowden leaks, the NSA has seen a huge increase in Freedom of Information Act requests.

Dopers in South Africa are smoking a combo of weed, rat poison, opium and an anti-retroviral drug (AKA HIV meds).

Oh, God. No. Don't read this.

V.22 No.42 |

news

The Daily Word in Nevada shootings, online health care woes and the zombie obsession

The Daily Word

President Obama will give a talk today addressing problems people have been having with HeathCare.gov, a new health care website that allows people to compare insurance rates, understand health care laws and more.

A lawyer for a Roma couple accused of kidnapping a little girl in Greece says that the couple adopted her from her birth mother, though they still haven't located said mother for verification.

Hurricane Raymond is getting stronger.

There was a shooting at Sparks Middle School in Nevada this morning. Police say the suspect was “neutralized,” though it's not clear how many were shot, but the children were evacuated to the nearby high school.

There was another shooting in Nevada this morning, though this one was at a Las Vegas casino, in which one person was pronounced dead and two were wounded. Police say the suspect is in custody.

Joseph Sandoval, 50, was killed on Saturday after being struck by a Rail Runner train that was headed north to Santa Fe. Police are still trying to figure out why Sandoval was near the tracks.

Scott Chandler, owner of Tierra Blanca Ranch, spoke to Matt Lauer on "The TODAY Show" about the allegations of abuse and the Amber Alert for nine missing kids last week.

You think UNM has a solution to the national debt?

Are zombies holding America's imagination hostage?

V.21 No.1 | 1/5/2012

news

The Daily Word in Timberlake’s Elton, Walmart’s syringes and the Rail Runner’s peace

The Daily Word

A Wells Fargo was mistakenly left unlocked for 48 hours before a customer finally notified them.

Authorities arrested a German man last night who was linked to 55 fires in the Los Angeles area.

Elton John wants Justin Timberlake to play him in an upcoming movie about his life.

More than 100,000 voters are expected to vote for their favorite GOP caricature in the Iowa caucuses tonight.

The Rail Runner launches a test program today featuring a “quieter” car.

Do you know who these dead people are?

Iran threatens to act if a U.S. carrier stays in the Persian Gulf.

There’s going to be a meteor shower tonight visible all across North America.

A 15th broken syringe is found in a piece of clothing in a Georgia Walmart.

Police are sent out to collect overdue books from a 5-year-old girl.

Skinned dogs are mysteriously being discovered on the side of the road in Larimer County, Co.

Police are loking for a man who was caught on video tossing a Molotov cocktail at an Islamic center in Queens.

V.20 No.42 |

news

The Daily Word in Rail Runner hikes, more Gaddafi death videos, no KFC for Travolta

The Daily Word

Rail Runner raising fares in 45 days.

No lunch in Texas prisons on weekends.

New video of a bloody Gaddafi being dragged about challenges preliminary reports as to the nature of his death.

Two minor quakes hit the Bay Area same day as earthquake preparedness drills take place.

Travolta denied reservation at KFC while in UK for a Scientology conference.

Somebody was making fake checks in the Northeast Heights.

Rangers rally to tie World Series in dramatic fashion.

Lindsay Lohan show's up for community service at the L.A. County morgue, which, by the way, sells some awesome merch.

Seattle Hertz branch axes 25 Somali Muslims for length of prayer breaks.

Breaking down the ownership laws for exotic pets in lieu of the Ohio fiasco.

Cain makes changes to 9-9-9.

Ralph Montoya gets 25 years for murder of UNM professor and his girlfriend.

Murdoch ponies up $3.2 million for phone hack of murdered 13-year-old.

N.M. senators propose expansion of area in which Mexican nationals can visit in the state for a 30-day period.

Shaq cleared in kidnapping lawsuit.


V.20 No.28 |

NEWS

The Daily Word: 7.16.11: weekend Rail Runner service is on; marijuana prohibition; News of the World R.I.P.

The Daily Word

Follow up: Obama has completely reneged on his promise to repeal marijuana prohibition.

Rail Runner: back on schedule, DUH.

Any Which Way you Can.

Toe-sucking Tarantino.

The other Loch Ness Monster.

Funniest thing you will read today.

Learn how to drive, asshole.

Bob fucking Ross.

Pinging, News of the World and the end of the British Empire.

PENG! Watch this.

Why hasn't my phone been hacked!?

The bigger they are the harder they fall.

V.20 No.27 |

travel

Reporting from the tracks

It’s a Wednesday morning, and the New Mexico Rail Runner Express presents a smorgasbord of snacking children, camera flashes, gimmicky tourist cowboy hats and the unmistakable crinkling sounds of unfolded, then refolded, maps. A handful of bowed head locals immerse themselves in the faint glow of a laptop screen, but the average age of rider seems to be about seven.

We leave the city and pass mobile homes, parking lots of eighteen-wheelers and neat stacks of bricks and cement blocks waiting for transport. A cluster of horses snooze under the shade of a lone tree, and a shirtless older man pushes a wheelbarrow through the hay brown fields.

The train jostles past the snarled mess of mangled electronics at the dump before gliding sweetly past white linens hanging on a laundry line. Shrubs like cotton balls dot the twisting mesas and low hills.

Eventually the buzz of just-boarded passengers dies down to a reasonable murmur. I sit back in the red canvas seat and settle in to research the budget deficit facing this train.

The Rio Metro Regional Transit District Board voted on June 17 to eliminate weekend train service, starting at the end of August. They also plan to replace the early morning northbound and southbound trains with a bus service due to the limited number of pre-dawn commuters.

The schedule changes reflect an attempt to alleviate the $1.2 million budget shortfall this year. Since the train was completed in 2008, it received federal money labeled Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Funds. The funds’ three year expiration date just passed, leaving us to grapple with serious deficit.

Some people argue the Rail Runner is money pit that will never even earn enough money to cover the start up cost. Others say that trains are the wave of the future and encourage growth in cities.

Attempts to raise fares have met with resistance since part of the train’s appeal lies in its laughably cheap ticket cost. With my student ID, I paid $6 for a round trip. That’s only half the cost for lunch in Santa Fe.

Personally I love the ease, convenience and affordability the train offers and will continue to ride it as long as it’s around. Plus, I could never have written this article on I-25.

V.19 No.36 | 9/9/2010

Culture

Track Marks: The Burning Man Editon

Blackrock City can kiss my ass. Santa Fe's been burning a giant dude to for way longer and with a lot less hippie.

Yuppers, it's Zozobra time (I want to put that in all caps because I'm so excited). Zozobra is the best day ever in Santa Fe. We all gather on a baseball field and send our gloom away by burning Zozo, or Old Man Gloom.

Side note: Someone tweets under the Old Man Gloom moniker and it's hilarious.

Anyway, Burque, I know you all want to come but driving back after the excitement of seeing a giant puppet go up in flames is a lot. So don't. I mean, come to Zozobra, but don't drive home. You can't crash at my house but you can ride the Rail Runner from the Santa Fe Depot at 11 p.m.

¡QUE VIVA!

Thursday, Sept. 9

3 p.m.

Fort Marcy Park, Santa Fe

zozobra.com

$10

V.19 No.34 |

Track Marks: I say don't drink and drive, you might spill your drink

The New Mexico Wine Festival hits Bernalillo over Labor Day weekend and the Rail Runner is running expanded service so you don't get a DWI on the way home. Hooray!

Use it. Please.

V.19 No.29 | 7/22/2010

WWW

Track Marks: No Peeking

As an avid fan of all things smart-assy, I’ve found myself reading Gawker as of late. (Admitting this is somewhat painful because I truly don’t care about Lindsay Lohan’s latest jail sentence but the barbs are just so damn good I can’t help myself.)

Of Gawker’s many writers, Adrian Chen is just my kind of wise-ass. So yesterday, when I read that some site I’d never heard of called 4chan was publishing his personal info I got curious about the site, but not enough to look it up. Today it seems that users of the site actually shut Gawker down for awhile, though it still came through in RSS without pictures and Gawker’s Twitter feed was just fine.

The curiosity got to me and I tried to go to 4chan to see what it was. No dice, as I was on the Rail Runner’s internet connection. This message came through: Based on your corporate access policies, access to this web site ( http://4chan.org/ ) has been blocked because the web category "Adult/Sexually Explicit" is not allowed.

No porn on the train I guess. In the past I’ve also noticed that Pirate Bay is blocked as well. Guess the New Mexico Department of Transportation doesn’t want you torrenting or looking at dirty pictures. Bummer.

Anyway, I finally made it to the Alibi offices, where apparently I can look at all the porn I want and finally got 4chan to load. Holy ‘90s Batman. I haven’t seen a message board like this since high school, when I decided the internet wasn’t for me.

Adrian Chen, I have new respect for you. Not only are you hilarious, but you figured this site out, which means you’re a super nerd too!