By: Stefany Olivas, Managing Editor | Photos By: Stefany Olivas, Managing Editor
“Alternative Transportation” is a special fall term series that looks at various means of transportation. Look for “Bus” in issue five.
Liberal Arts major Marie Duran said she has been riding the train to CNM for more than three years because of how much she saves in gas by doing so.
Duran rides the train every day to school from Bernalilllo. The student discount she receives allows her to ride the train and save at least $300 a month on gas.
“I’m happy to be a student. I’m happy to be able to ride the facility and have a place that I can trust to get home,” said Duran.
She said she has seen the train make it possible for many people to attend high school and college, when before, because of transpor`tation barriers, they may not have been in school at all.
Not only do students ride from the south and the north into Albuquerque for school, but many students will also ride from Albuquerque to northern and southern areas for school, she said.
“We have a lot of students now that ride and they come from all the neighboring areas. I don’t think they’d even get to college or school if they didn’t have the transportation of the train,” said Duran.
Rail Runner Marketing Manager Jay Faught encourages students to ride the train. Those with a valid student ID or proof or school registration get a discount. With the printed train ticket, students can also ride ABQ Ride, Rio Metro, or Santa Fe Trails buses for free, he said.
“The Rail Runner can save you hundreds of dollars each month,” sa id Faught.
New Mexico’s population has been on the rise for some time, and alternative transportation is a great way to help keep the roadways from becoming clogged, said Faught.
“We need publ ic suppor t. The Rail Runner is a vital part of t he transpor t at ion solut ion in our community,” said Faught, “even if you don’t ride the t rain often today, think about how important this is going to be for the next generat ion.”
To make commuting easier, the Rio Metro Regional Transit District is developing a five-year transit plan to increase accessibility and bus connections from the train, he said.
Faught said the biggest hurdle the Rail Runner faced was when two short-term federal grants expired. Since then, the train has been funded from fares, gross receipts taxes from the different counties the train runs through and more long-term federal funding, said Faught.
“When those grants expired last year, there was some concern about the funding of the train. However, since that time we have received new long-term federal grants and other federal funding that has replaced that source,” said Faught.
During Duran’s time riding the train she has met people from all over the country traveling the state and many international tourists visiting from places as far away as England.
She said there was even a woman who was moving all of her belongings from Illinois to meet her husband in Santa Fe. She and other passengers helped the woman move her possessions from the deck onto the train.
“You can meet nice people this way too. A lot of people just like to come into the city and ride the train for the experience,” said Duran.
She arrives 30 to 50 minutes early every day because she enjoys the quiet mornings at the station.
“I like to look at the mountains. It’s peaceful and it’s quiet, and sometimes I see the morning star. So it gives me that peace in the morning,” said Duran.
For more information on the Rail Runner visit nmrailrunner.com.
Cost Comparison Between Riding the Train and Driving a Car Per Term
INFORMATION COURTESY FUELECONOMY.GOV & NMRAILRUNNER.COM |WEB
*Figures are calculated assuming an average of gas at $3.63/ gal and average vehicle mileage of 26 mpg.
|Destination(Average mileage)||Cost per month driving 2 days a week||Cost per month using monthly Rail Runner pass|
|34 miles from Belen to Alb.||$75.95||$18|
|24 miles from Los Lunas to Alb.||$53.61||$18|
|15 miles from Isleta/Sandia Pueblos to Alb.||$33.51||$9|
|17 miles from Bernalillo to Alb.||$37.98||$18|
|63 miles from Santa Fe to Alb.||$140.73||$42-$45|