Monday, June 27, 2011

The Railrunner runs Amuck in Santa Fe

Like so many little tourist towns, Santa Fe depends on a combo of mystique and 'special events'. Santa Fe has been hosting the Spanish Market, the Indian Market, the Folk Art Market, and many 'festivals, such as the Santa Fe Film festival, the Japan Festival, Greek Festival, Ethnic Arts, etc. --these are all large national and international events. To top it off, throughout the year many farmers travel many miles from all over Northern New Mexico to gather for a large regional Farmers Market (with a piggyback art market) attended by thousands of people each week.

All these markets have one thing in common: They gravitate towards the weekends: Saturday and Sunday are usually the big days, with lots of traffic and a lack of adequate parking. Everyone knows this.

But what happens here? Somehow the train service to Santa Fe is cut out during the weekend. Yes, you are reading it right: despite gas prices where they are at, despite lack of accessibility, regardless of a lack of parking spaces and regardless of all the 'special events', there will not be any trains coming to Santa Fe on the weekends.

This is not the place to complain about the price-tag for the one track 'railrunner' (440 million) or all the corruption that surrounded its construction (thanks Bill). As a participant in the Santa Fe Farmers-market I already noticed a remarkable drop off in business in this venue. Whereas some weeks ago one could always count on an influx of people from Albuquerque arriving at the SF train station at 11 o'clock, ready to buy --they are not there any longer. Result is that all these markets, and Santa Fe itself will suffer.

The railrunner train service is a community resource. We paid for it. If it is suffering somehow, from lack of sufficient revenue to keep it running --we need to think about that. Trains could have more prominence in our area with much better service (it takes almost 2 hours to get to Albuquerque). Furthermore it could be marketed much better and be an integral part to all the special events. But to dismantle it for the weekends is another example of short sighted policy in a time of climate crisis. Not to hear a peep squeak  from any politician or the mayor here, is yet another indication that the local 'body politico' is totally out of touch with the economic and ecological realities of this area. Sooner or later the price tag will come due: a lost desert town, with fires all around, and poverty abound.

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