Congrats to New Mexico Rail Runner!
Good planning and execution have led to the opening of an extension of the New Mexico Rail Runner operation from Bernalillo to Santa Fe! This project was a favorite of Governor Bill Richardson. Looking at this photo brings one question to mind: Can a rail commuter operation prosper in such a sparse landscape?
If you have ever driven from Santa Fe to Albuquerque on Interstate 25, you will agree that the amount of vehicular traffic is truly amazing. Much of the new trackage runs in the media of that Interstate. A fast train will, as usual, be its own best advertising while it speeds by auto traffic. No doubt his will be an interesting operation to watch.
A review of ridership on transits across the nation indicate that patronage is up, even in the face of much, much lower gasoline prices. APTA has said so here and here. Want more specific examples? How about Texas? Dallas Area Rapid Transit and Trinity Rail Express seem to be increasing by the minute. Both were doing well for the summer, and have continued in October and November. Tri-Met in Portland continues to impress.
How about auto happy California? VTA in San Jose checks in impressivesly. Not to be outdone, Los Angeles MTA is going strong, too. And, don't forget Amtrak! That Agency is up in California, too. It looks like last summer's outrageous gasoline prices have resulted in decisions by many that have modified how travel is done.
So, in today's travel environment where light rail and commuter trains are being favored, New Mexico Rail Runner should do well. New Mexicans are surprisingly open to innovation and change, and should embrace the idea of taking the train between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Let's hope so! Success here will breed success elsewhere, for sure.
Just for good luck, here is one more photo:
So, good luck on ya, New Mexico. And, Merry Christmas to all!