People who commute to and from Sandoval County via the New Mexico Rail Runner Express will soon pay less for a ticket.
Last Friday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that one-way trip, day pass and monthly pass fares will be reduced by 75 percent. For example, the price of a monthly pass for one zone will go from $156 to $39.
“I think it’s very generous,” state Rep. Derrick Lente, D-Sandia Pueblo, told the Observer.
Prices for annual passes will remain the same.
For a complete list of the new rates that will take effect Monday, visit https://www.riometro.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=356.
There are six zones on the Express, which runs from Belen to Santa Fe. The Sandia Pueblo stop is in Zone 2, the downtown Bernalillo and Sandoval County/U.S. 550 stations are in Zone 3 and Kewa Pueblo is in Zone 4.
The decrease in fares will help residents, Lente said.
“I think for the people I serve in my district, those who catch the train to Bernalillo, those who travel to get to their job, it is a great benefit to them,” he said. “I’m glad to see them do that for my constituents.”
Reducing public transportation costs provides commuters with another affordable option while gas prices remain high, Lujan Grisham said in a press release.
She added that the state is doing what it can to help “deliver economic relief to New Mexicans.”
Hopefully, it will help offset some of the costs for people who have been hit hardest by the prices at the gas pumps, Lente said.
It is about time the state treated its public transportation system as an asset, he added.
To make up for the loss in revenue, Rio Metro and the New Mexico Department of Transportation will cover 50 percent and 25 percent of the costs, respectively.
“Now with more people returning to work and gas prices at an all-time high, we’re hoping that this reduced fare promotion encourages many to get back on the train, and also attracts those who have never commuted by rail to give it a try,” Rio Metro Regional Transit District Director Terry Doyle said.
“If reducing the Rail Runner fare will help spur more riders to use it, I’m an enthusiastic supporter,” state Sen. Brenda McKenna, D-Corrales, said. “It’s a safer, cleaner and more economical way to reach our destinations. I wish I did not have to be dependent upon a personal vehicle to meet all of my transportation needs. Unfortunately, our country has more roads than railways.”
‘Take it slow’
The fare reduction will be in effect until the end of July.
State Rep. Daymon Ely, D-Corrales, said the governor is making the right move by taking a short-term approach to the rate decreases.
“I think she’s right in kind of taking it one step at a time,” especially with gas prices being volatile, he said. “Take it slow; don’t lock yourself long-term on this.”
If she has to extend it, then she will, Ely added.
For more information, visit https://riometro.org/ or call 1-866-795-7245 or 505-245-RAIL (7245).
Attempts were made to reach state Reps. Christine Chandler, Jason Harper, Joshua Hernandez, Stefani Lord and Jane Powdrell-Culbert, and state Sens. Craig Brandt, Katy Duhigg and Benny Shendo Jr. for comment, but they did not respond as of press time.