It might be 70-some miles away from the nearest Rail Runner Express platform, but ever-creative Taoseños have found a way to tap into the popular mass transit train system.
Come June 4, the town will begin running weekend nonstop shuttles between Taos and the Santa Fe Depot station.
A $10 adult fare will get shuttle passengers to Taos and back to Santa Fe. Children 10 and under can travel for free on the “Taos Express.”
“We wanted to have an option for our visitors and our members of our community to connect to this unique service,” Taos Mayor Darren Cordova said Tuesday.
Cordova said he and Española Mayor Joseph Maestas have been looking into ways to study the feasibility of expanding the train service farther north, toward their towns.
“That’s probably a few years in the making,” Cordova said. “In the meantime, we wanted to see what we can do now to get the connectivity to the Rail Runner.”
This is how it will be done:
The shuttles will run Thursday and Friday evenings and Saturday mornings and evenings.
Taos plans on using 24-passenger, step-up vans to shuttle the passengers. The vans are ADA-compliant, have room for luggage and by around June 12, they are expected to be equipped with bicycle racks.
“They’re actually the shuttles that we use in the winter and take snowboarders and skiers to Taos Ski Valley,” said Cathy Connelly, public relations director for Taos.
The Taos Express is a pilot program that will operate between June through September. The $30,000 or more operational cost is being paid for by the town through its marketing budget — this does not factor in any fare revenue that would be generated.
From the Santa Fe Depot, The Taos Express will drop off passengers at the Loretto free parking lot by the town plaza/Camino de la Placita.
The stop is within walking distance to attractions or hotels such as the Blumenschein Home and Museum, Harwood Museum, Kit Carson Home and Museum, Hotel La Fonda de Taos and the Taos Inn.
The shuttle also will offer a free connection the town’s “Chile Line” transit service, in addition to extended service to the ski valley.
Some Santa Fe businesses have reported that the train has been a big benefit economically because of the traffic it’s driven in, Lawrence Rael of the Mid-Region Council of Governments said Tuesday. “That could easily be part of what happens in Taos,” he said.
The Taos Express shuttle service
Cost: $10 round trip for adults; children 10 and under are free.
Route: The shuttle will run between the Rail Runner’s Santa Fe Depot station on Guadalupe Street and the Lorretto free parking lot just off the Taos Plaza/Camino de la Placita.
Thursday and Friday evenings
- Northbound: Leaves Santa Fe at 6:30 p.m. (It connects with the northbound Rail Runner train No. 516 that arrives at 5:46 p.m.) Arrives in Taos at 8 p.m.
- Soutbound: Leaves Taos at 4:40 p.m. and arrives in Santa Fe at 6:10 p.m. (It meets the southbound train No. 517 that leaves Santa Fe at 6:18 p.m.)
- Northbound: Leaves Santa Fe at 11:30 a.m. (It connects with the northbound train No. 502 that arrives at 11:15 a.m.) Arrives in Taos at 1 p.m.
- Southbound: Leaves Taos at 6:25 a.m. and arrives in Santa Fe at 7:50 a.m. (It meets the southbound train No. 503 that leaves at 8:10 a.m.)
- Northbound: Leaves Santa Fe at 6:25 p.m. (It connects with the northbound train No. 508 that arrives at 6:03 p.m.) Arrives in Taos at 8:10 p.m.
- Southbound: Leaves Taos at 4:20 p.m. and arrives in Santa Fe at 5:45 p.m. (It meets the southbound train No. 511 that leaves at 6:20 p.m.)
For more information, go to www.taosexpress.com.