Thoughts on Riding the RailRunner

I have ridden the Rail Runner before, if for no other reason than to know what I am talking about when I criticize it. That said, I had my nieces (3 and 4 years old) in town this week and “Uncle Paul” had the pleasure of taking them on the train during the afternoon rush hour from downtown ABQ north to the 550/Sandoval County stop.
While the train’s two cars were never filled to capacity, the train did pick up significant numbers of riders heading to the south. Of course, with a day pass costing just $3, most of the costs of riding the rails are borne by taxpayers, not riders. It would be interesting to see what would happen if maybe 25% of the train’s operating costs (rather than the current 10%) were borne by riders as opposed to the rest of us.
The fact is that the Rail Runner in its current form is not going away. The best we can do is to stop the train before Phase II to Santa Fe is complete. Running through all those miles of barren Indian Country to a city of 70,000 or so people will drain transportation funds that could otherwise be used to improve the Paseo/I-25 interchange or alleviate the myriad maintenance problems facing this state. And that doesn’t even account for the millions of annual operating costs that will only increase over time.