I am sorry to report this to those of you who thought you could use the train to trek up to Santa Fe on your future visit to Albuquerque, New Mexico, but we have some real idiots running this state and they have really screwed that up for you. Don’t shoot the messenger. Tourists can’t believe how backwards we are in Albuquerque and New Mexico when it comes to mass transit, and they are so right. And now New Mexico’s Rail Runner Train will stop its weekend runs this August, just in time for the Balloon Fiesta crowds.
Much to the dismay of everyone involved with tourism in Central New Mexico, as well as the many folks who commute along the Rio Grande corridor on Saturday and Sunday, the Rio Metro Regional Transit Board voted last week to end the Rail Runner service on weekends starting at the end of August 2011. This drastic change is an effort to balance the commuter train’s budget since there will be a shortfall of about 1.2 million that had been coming from the federal government’s Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Funds since the train started running in 2008. Federal regulations rule that these funds can only be used over a three year period of time and that time is up at the start of the state’s FY2012 this July.
Meanwhile I have been driving all over Albuquerque in the past few weeks watching crews pave roads that weren’t even beat up, cracked or bumpy, (using up stimulus money?) I am left scratching my head. Paving roads that don’t need it. Cutting Train service that we do need. Huh? Really?
It was thought that the State of New Mexico would pick up the 1.2 million dollar deficit in funding, but our short sighted governor has no plans to support the Rail Runner in any way, shape or form because she doesn’t really care about the environment and the pollution this rail effort reduces, nor does she care about the thousands of dollars saved by people who use the rail runner to commute between Belen, Albuquerque and Santa Fe on weekdays AND weekends. She ignores what a big boost to tourism it is to have a train connecting the state’s largest city and only large airport to the international destination that is Santa Fe. She loathes the train because her predecessor backed it. The guests at our bed and breakfast in Albuquerque use the Rail Runner often, and I am sad to have to tell everyone that this service has been compromised by our law makers and they may not count on the Rail Runner to be part of their plans in the future.
Our legislators are just as spineless because they won’t even stand united against the governor who has promised to veto any efforts to help the rail service. They are all short sighted and despicable in my eyes, including the present mayors of Albuquerque and Rio Rancho, the state’s two largest cities where thousands of residents depend on this service.
Way to go New Mexico. What are you going to do when the feds threaten to yank funds again because of the nasty winter air quality? You cretins.
The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government is questioning the legality of the decision, stating that what was put out to the public was the possibility of cutting some runs on weekends and weekdays, but the decision was made without public participation, but here are no plans for a re-vote, so for now we’ve got what we’ve got. No weekend service. Other options are being explored, but you can bet the next step will be to eliminate some of the weekday commuter runs, because – “hey, no one cared enough to complain when we made the last cuts.”
I know when we’re getting screwed in Albuquerque!
Sarah Dolk, Adobe Nido Bed & Breakfast
Expert on Destination Albuquerque and Central New Mexico!