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New Mexico Rail Runner to eliminate weekend service

The Rio Metro Regional Transit District Board recently voted to eliminate New Mexico Rail Runner Express weekend service as part of an effort to balance the fiscal-year 2012 budget, which might lose $1.2 million in federal funding.

The board initially considered dropping two weekday services, but opted instead to eliminate weekend service to preserve the workday schedule, Rio Metro officials said in a prepared statement. The weekend service will continue through mid- to late August.

“While we recognize the weekend service from a tourism and convenience point of view, we think it’s more important to support the initial mission of the train without affecting the people who use it to get to and from work,” said Rio Metro Chairman Steve Shaw.

When the service began to Santa Fe in 2008, a portion was funded by the federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality program, which can be used only for three years to support operations based on federal regulations. The funds run out in FY2012, resulting in a $1.2 million loss in revenue. To date, no alternative funding source has been identified to make up the difference, Rio Metro officials said.

“We’re having ongoing conversations with the state looking at all options,” said Dewey Cave, executive director for the Mid-Region Council of Governments.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/21/2011