Rail Runner sees drop in ridership | KOB 4
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Rail Runner sees drop in ridership

Patrick Hayes
November 01, 2018 10:43 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The number of passengers taking the Rail Runner continues to decrease, according to a study by the Rio Grande Foundation – a local think tank that looks at economic policies.

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The group’s president, Paul Gessing, said he wants voters to realize that the taxpayer-funded project isn’t as popular as it used to be.

“The Rail Runner is dramatically hemorrhaging ridership – I don’t know if there’s anything that can be done," he said.

According to data obtained by the Rio Grande Foundation, ridership dropped 5.8 percent this past year.

In fiscal year 2017, 835,561 riders took the Rail Runner while that number dropped to 787,116 by fiscal year 2018, according to Gessing.

Meanwhile, on Nov. 6, four counties, Santa Fe, Los Alamos, Rio Arriba and Taos, will decide whether to continue funding the project after 2024.

The current tax increase pays for the Rail Runner and other projects in the transit district.

As it stands, one-eighth of 1 percent of gross receipt tax goes to several projects including the Rail Runner which gets about $2 million each year.

However, Augusta Meyers, a spokesperson for the Rail Runner told KOB that $2 million has a 4-to-1 match from the federal government.

“That would be a significant impact. We would continue to run the train. That wouldn’t be an issue. We’d probably have to curtail some projects or some improvements during the year just to tighten our belt," she said.

According to Meyers, taking the train is a viable option and ridership can fluctuate depending on the price of gas, weather and tourists.

Additionally, Gessing said he hopes the project is able to succeed but urges voters to think twice before approving the measure.

“I think taxpayers in these counties and across our state, frankly, need to be aware of this and continue to press their public officials to do something to make sure the Rail Runner doesn’t continue to burden the taxpayers of this state for a relatively small benefit in terms of the number of people it moves," he said.

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Patrick Hayes

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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