Thursday, November 12, 2009

Takin' the train

Today Tina and I took the train down to Albuquerque. I've been wanting to take the train, especially since I live near the depot, and it looked like fun. The train is relatively new and they don't quite have it worked out. Right now it only goes in the morning and evening, nothing in the middle, nothing late at night- just for commuters, and students, as we found out. So we had to plan our afternoon based on the schedule. It cost $8 round trip to Albuquerque, $6 if you're over 65, but we got charged the regular price because we didn't understand what the ticket person was saying. But we could have bought the tickets on the train for the same price anyway.

The train is called the Railrunner, and has a big cartoony roadrunner painted on it, which I find funny. Tina has seen a roadrunner (the state bird) but I've never seen one. The train comes so close to the traffic when it comes through town, it's a little scary. One time a truck was in front of me and had stopped in the no parking area, and then the gate came down right on top of him, but he couldn't move at that point or he'd cause severe damage.

 So as you can see, the train is double decker, and it's very nice and clean and comfortable. Not many people were riding on the way down, but it was maybe half to three-quarters full on the way home. It goes through some really nice scenery, but also goes past some funky housing, mobile homes, vehicles in various stages of rust and disrepair, industrial areas. It takes an hour and a half, almost twice as long as by car, but then it is saving energy. I wonder if it will ever be widely used. When questioned how fast the train was going, a very nice and enthusiastic ticket taker said, "79 mph," with no sense of irony. Mabe it was going that fast for 15 minutes, but more often it was crawling along, and since there's only one track, when the train comes the other day, it has to pull onto a side track for a little bit.

Once we got to Albuquerque we had to take a bus, because we were having lunch with Marge at Tamarind, which is at the UNM campus. Not far from downtown, but definitely not walkable- so the bus was free when you had a train ticket, we hopped on and were there in 10 minutes. But like most buses in cities where people don't use public transportation, there was a pretty down and out group of folks on the bus. One young guy asked us for 35 cents. We said no, but the guy sitting across the aisle gave him his train ticket, which would allow him to ride the bus all day for free. 

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