New Mexico Railrunner won't run extra trains to balloon festival

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NMRAilrunnerMarch2018Wrinn
The New Mexico Railrunner won't make extra trips this year for the balloon festival.
Trains: Jim Wrinn
Albuquerque, N.M. — Visitors to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Oct. 6-14 will have to look for a different option if they intended to take the Railrunner train to this year’s event.

In the past, the Santa Fe-to-Albuquerque train offered passes to provide transportation to the festival. This year, though, KOAT-7 reports that only 7,500 people purchased the passes. The Railrunner’s operator, the Rio Metro Regional Transit District, says that isn’t enough to justify running shuttles and expanding the schedule with additional morning trains bound for Balloon Fiesta.

"While we're not in the business of making money with public transportation, we're also not in the business of losing money," Railrunner Communications Manager Augusta Meyers told KOAT-7. "Seventy-five hundred people was not enough for us to hit that break-even point."

Meyers noted that the Railrunner will still run its normal service schedule during the Balloon Fiesta, and that passengers who bring a bicycle onto the train will be able to benefit from the festival’s free bicycle valet service.

The Railrunner has been in service since July 2006 and drew criticism for its high price tag. In recent years, ridership has been on a downward trend that the transit district attributes to a flagging local economy. Just under 790,000 people rode between July 2017 and June 2018, down from a high of more than 1.2 million in 2010.

The balloon festival, which opens Saturday, will still offer tickets for park-and-ride shuttle service. For more information, visit http://balloonfiesta.com/guest-guide/park-ride.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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