Is it me, or is the space between our two fair cities shrinking? I'm not talking about open space. I'm talking about mental space -- the idea that the two cities are so easily physically connected that the lines between live/work/play merge.

For me, the Railrunner has done this. Proper or inproper subsidies aside (which belongs on somebody else's post), I've had several experiences lately facilitated by a quick ride up to Santa Fe on the northboundthat make me feel like Santa Fe is my home, too.

The two cities actually compliment each other nicely. At least for me, downtown Santa Fe gives a pedestrian-friendly-city fix, and Albuquerque grounds some of Santa Fe's excesses.

I felt this way living in Nob Hill, three miles from the downtown Railrunner station, and I certainly feel it now living two blocks away. I've never felt this way driving to Santa Fe and back, but rail makes the City Different, well, not so different.

Other than the politics, of course.

Views: 12

Comment by Ben Moffett on September 2, 2010 at 2:06pm
I love it now, and I'll love it more when it runs from El Paso to Canada. Blog on this forthcoming (in a year or so).On a recent Rail Runner trip to Santa Fe, I was amazed at how the train has enlivened the area along the tracks, excited by the different view of NM available from being above the rooftops and landscape, and curious about the possibilities that seem unfulfilled. I think a country to country trip in along the edge of the Rockies would be delightful to tourists who could jump on and off at any city or village on a two week pass. I saw people commuting to work from Los Lunas to Belen, eight miles or so, so it would be a benefit to long and short distance travelers and maybe no longer require a subsidy.Also, I like the fact that the train shows off the landscape and living conditions warts and all.
Comment by Laura on September 2, 2010 at 2:18pm
Some good perspectives. Perhaps the Rail Runner has bridged the spatial distance between the two cities, but there is definitely still a mental or psychological distance, I think. (Perhaps there's a better way to put that. . . ) The Rail Runner makes it easier to notice the contrast between the two, and like you said, enjoy how they complement each other.

@g.Tortuga: Thanks for reminding me of El Sombrero. I love stopping there after a day of traipsing around Bosque del Apache and watching cranes (or swatting mosquitoes). Much less expensive than dining in Santa Fe, too!
Comment by PJH on September 2, 2010 at 3:33pm
It is a known fact that there is practically no intercity passenger rail service in the world that operates without government subsidies. I say practically because I seem to recall that some Japanese systems have such a tremendously high ridership that they pay for themselves. Don't expect the RailRunner to support itself anytime soon. Think of the tons of money sunk into roads, etc. for vehicle traffic needs. Does anyone expect the road system to pay for itself?

That having been said, I love passenger trains and the RailRunner in particular. It's a needed alternative.
Comment by Lahjik on September 2, 2010 at 5:01pm
Hopefully there will be infrastructure and service development around the Albuquerque stops (and all the others once it gets extended south to where, Socorro or T or C?) If there are walkable areas around each stop plus transport, whether bus or other, around those rail hubs then people can use it just that way. I think it would be cool to hop the train from town to town just for an excursion. Maybe start in Santa Fe for breakfast at Horseman's Haven followed by retail shenanigan's on the plaza; hop the train in time for lunch and a walkabout tour of downtown or maybe even a quick trip up the tram. Back to the train headed somewhere south to wind up for dinner, maybe Socorro Springs Brewery followed by a to-be-named-later BnB for the night. Yeah, I know RailRunner needs to pay its way as a transportation system by moving commuters and fostering business while lessening traffic on 25 but this sort of outing can create a lot of business and be a revenue stream for the rail as well. For that matter, grow it out with good scheduling and infrastructure supporting businesses around the stops and it can become a destination in and of itself. Heck I'm thinking a micro-brewery pub run starting at the Northern terminus with ground transport from pub to pub within each city with a nice boutique hotel at the far South terminus (and a next morning return to your start point) could get some attention. I'd be willing to make that annual tradition. How about it? The first annual Duke City Fix Pub Crawl and Sleep-Over?
Comment by Ben Moffett on September 2, 2010 at 10:02pm
Thumbs up to all that, Lajik!i
Comment by Barelas Babe on September 3, 2010 at 9:40am
Such an interesting question! I have a mental connection with what I call my "work" city that is similar to what you describe, DonB. Sometimes I have to stop and think about where I am and which restaurants connect with which city. I wonder if using transportation other than a car helps us make this connection?

That said, I'm with Laura on the psychological distance. As much as I enjoy SF, I see the City Different, as well, different from both my homes.


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