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The New Mexico Rail Runner Express plans to drastically reduce fares through the summer to help bring back riders who avoided the commuter railroad during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rail Runner fares will by cut by 75% from April 18 through July 31, and possibly longer, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Friday. The reductions will apply to all one-way, day passes and monthly passes.
“My hope is we’ll be able to identify additional resources to carry that through the fall,” Lujan Grisham told a news conference.
The cost of traveling between Albuquerque and Santa Fe will fall to $2.50 for a day pass and to $27.50 for a monthly pass under the new fares.
State officials hope the lower fares will lure riders back to the commuter train, which runs between Belen and Santa Fe.
“Daily ridership on the Rail Runner is about 60% of pre-pandemic ridership levels,” said Terry Doyle, director of the Rio Metro Regional Transit District, which operates the railroad.
“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,” Doyle said.
Rio Metro and the New Mexico Department of Transportation will share the estimated $400,000 to $500,000 cost of the fare reduction, said Nora Meyers Sackett, a spokeswoman for Lujan Grisham.
The announcement comes after lawmakers balked at a request from the Governor’s Office to appropriate $1 million in state funds for fare reductions in a revived spending package during a single-day special session this week.
Several lawmakers pointed out that Rio Metro received large amounts of federal pandemic relief funds and should be able to reduce ticket prices without additional state funding.
For more details, visit www.riometro.org or call 866-795-7245 or 505-245-7245.
Dan Boyd of the Journal Capitol Bureau contributed to this report.