In 2006, the Rail Runner Express took its first passengers along the 96.5-mile route it runs between Belen and Santa Fe, New Mexico. This commuter train provides daily service to 15 stations in Valencia, Sandoval, Bernalillo, and Santa Fe counties, and has plenty of local bus connections to help people complete their journeys.
The iconic Rail Runner Express engine features a stylized red and yellow roadrunner as it zips along the rail line, starting as early as 4:30 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. on weekends. Trains run as late as 10:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 p.m. on Sundays. Holiday schedules may vary.
Commuting on the Rail Runner Express
How long does it take to ride the Rail Runner Express from Albuquerque to Santa Fe? Depending on the train you take and which stations you use, figure on about 90 minutes as there are stops at multiple stations along the way. But you won’t be fighting any traffic and can just relax and enjoy the view or get some work done (Rio Metro says WiFi services are coming soon and you can charge your mobile devices on the tables on the mezzanine and upper levels of the trains).
If you’re using the train or bus to supplement a bike commute, all Rio Metro buses have exterior racks that can accommodate up to two bicycles while each Rail Runner Express rail car can hold up to eight. In addition, each station has bike racks and lockers in case your bike doesn’t need to take the trip with you. Those who have a little power on their bikes will be glad to know that e-bikes are allowed as well. Read more about taking your bike on the train here.
Head for Fun on the Rail Runner Express
The Rail Runner Express isn’t all work and no play, however. You can take the Rail Runner from Albuquerque to stations at or near a lot of fun destinations, such as Sandia Resort & Casino, Isleta Resort & Casino, the Santa Fe Plaza, the Santa Fe Railyard, and even hop a ride on the train and a free shuttle to see the epic Burning of Zozobra in Santa Fe.
Getting to the Albuquerque International Sunport is a breeze with the Rail Runner Express and ABQ RIDE buses. If you buy your Rail Runner ticket in advance, riding the bus to the airport is free, or $1 each way if you don’t. Learn more about airport transportation here.
Rail Runner Express Fares & Discounts
Riding the Rail Runner not only makes it easier to get around, but rates are quite reasonable. The distance between the point furthest south, Belen, and the Santa Fe Depot on the north end is divided into six zones. Rates for a one-way trip are $2 for one zone and $10 for traversing all six. Day and monthly passes reduce the cost.
Special rates and even free rides are available to seniors. Those 60 and better get a special rate every day and ride free just by showing their ID on Wednesdays. Active-duty military and veterans with proper ID ride for free, as do kids aged 9 and below. Youth aged 10 to 17, Medicare card holders, students with valid student IDs, and those with disabilities can also qualify for reduced fares.
Rail Runner Express FAQ
Buy your tickets online, through the mobile app, and onboard with a debit or credit card or cash.
Free parking is available at all stations except Downtown Albuquerque and the Santa Fe Depost, although there is paid parking near each of these stations.
You can use your train ticket for free bus connections on Rio Metro, ABQ RIDE, Santa Fe Trails, and most NCRTD buses on the same day you ride the train. There are additional paid bus connections available.
Folks often wonder if they can eat or drink on the train. You are allowed to bring non-alcoholic beverages and food onto the train, although no food or drinks are sold on the trains.
Service animals are allowed on the Rail Runner Express and Rio Metro buses, although pets are not. Service animals are defined on the website, which notes that service animals may sit under the passenger’s seat or at his or her feet, but not on seats or in the aisles.