New Mexico Rail Runner looks at spur for balloon fiesta

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New Mexico Rail Runner could build a new spur for balloon fiesta traffic.
Trains: Jim Wrinn
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Despite previous setbacks, attendees of a popular hot-air balloon event in New Mexico could still eventually arrive by rail.

KRQE-TV in Albuquerque, N.M., is reporting that local city government is considering the construction of a spur into Balloon Fiesta Park to provide New Mexico Rail Runner Express commuter service to the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

The proposed spur would be constructed to address traffic congestion into the festival. The city also hopes a ramp from nearby I-25 will also be constructed.

The proposal effectively brings Rail Runner back into the overall discussion of how to most effectively get people into and out of the balloon fiesta. Last fall, Rail Runner Communications Manager Augusta Meyers told KOAT Channel 7 news that previous efforts by Rail Runner’s operator, the Rio Metro Regional Transit District, to bring people into the festival by rail were not cost-effective. Despite 7,500 passes being purchased for the rail service to the balloon fiesta, Meyers said Rail Runner did not break even in providing the service.

KRQE-TV reports that a feasibility study recommended an $8.4 million spur into the park that could bring in as many as 1,000 people at a time. Attendance numbers for the balloon fiesta have regularly totaled in the hundreds-of-thousands each year.

Meyer added that Rail Runner still intends to continue normal train service during the festival. Rail Runner has struggled over the past several years with declining ridership and criticism for high fares.

KRQE reports that the proposed Rail Runner spur into Balloon Fiesta Park could be constructed in time for the 2021 festival, pending approval and funding.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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