Ride Rio Metro Blog

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Welcome to the Rio Metro Regional Transit District Blog! Here you will find resources and information related to the New Mexico Rail Runner Express, Rio Metro’s bus services, public transportation, transit safety, special events and more.  

Rio Metro's Marketing Team Honored with 8 Awards in 2021

Posted November 18, 2021 - Education and collaboration have proven to be the keys to success for Rio Metro Regional Transit District’s Marketing Department since the start of the pandemic. Their campaigns demonstrating commitment to public health and safety and the awareness of public transportation received 8 awards in 2021. 

The awards came from national and regional transit organizations as well as the International Academy of Visual Arts (IAVA). 

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The Art of Warner Bros. on Exhibit

Posted October 20, 2021 - See The Art of Warner Bros. Exhibit at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science sponsored in part by the New Mexico Rail Runner Express!

For more than 80 years, Warner Bros. animation has been bringing joy to all ages. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, in particular, provided some of the most iconic animated characters of all time - Bugs Bunny, Tweety Pie, the Tasmanian Devil, and Daffy Duck. 

In “The Art of Warner Bros. Cartoons,” visitors can get a rare glimpse of sketches, model sheets, paintings, and animation cells that went into creating these famous films from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.

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Rio Metro Partners with PAPA for Rail Runner Poster Contest

Posted September 22, 2021 - “We are not here to create the stars of tomorrow; rather we are here to create a whole human being today.” 

This statement is written in big, bold letters at the top of the Public Academy for Performing Arts (PAPA) website. Rio Metro recently partnered with a group of 96 incredibly talented PAPA students and their dedicated Visual Arts teacher for a Rail Runner 15 Year Anniversary Poster Contest. 

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The Burning of Zozobra: Myth and History

Posted August 19, 2021 - Zozobra is a monster. Make no mistake about it. He stays in hiding all year long, feeding on and gaining power from our failings, misdeeds and sadness. But at the end of each Summer, we get a chance to cast out the darkness. 

The Burning of Zozobra is a totally unique cultural event staged annually by the Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe. The burning serves as an exciting and fiery finale to the last days of Summer. This year, the 97th annual event will take place on September 3, 2021 at Ft. Marcy Park in Santa Fe.

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New Facility to House Rio Metro Bus Operations in Valencia County                    

Posted July 15, 2021 - Design is well underway for the Valencia County Transit Facility, the soon-to-be home of Rio Metro’s bus services in the county. Rio Metro has been hard at work with the Village of Los Lunas and consultants Bohannan-Huston and Studio Southwest Architects to design an inviting and energy-efficient facility for our staff, drivers and the public near the intersection of NM 6 and NM 47.

The centerpiece of the VCTF will be an 8,000-square foot office building styled after the metal-roofed agricultural buildings found up and down NM 47. The building will house the dispatchers and supervisors who coordinate rides, and will also provide Rio Metro’s drivers with the locker, exercise, and break rooms that can make a hectic day a bit easier to manage.

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Rio Metro Communicator Awards
Bugs Bunny from the Art of Warner Bros
Rail Runner Poster Contest
The Burning of Zozobra
Valencia County Transit Facility Admin Building Rendering

Transit Equity: An Albuquerque Transit Rider's Story

Posted June 16, 2021 - This month’s guest blog post features a conversation on transit equity between a local public transit rider and a transportation planner from the Mid-Region Metropolitan Planning Organization (MRMPO). 

Planner Sarah Ijadi sat down with transit rider Jennifer Lucero to discuss her life as a public transit rider, resident of Albuquerque's International District, and a young person with epilepsy. Her story tells us what public transit means to her and how better located, comfortable stops, expanded hours of service, and more routes to more places could improve her and her fellow riders' lives. 

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Albuquerque City Bus

Association Keeps NM Transit Providers Connected, Informed                     

Posted May 19, 2021 - New Mexico ranks 5th largest in size among the 50 states. There are many transportation providers, large and small, public and private, located throughout the more than 121,000 square mile area.

How do they stay connected, receive training, and remain relevant in the eyes of decision makers like State Legislators? The New Mexico Transit Association (NMTA) plays a big role, acting as a communication hub for transit providers and working closely with the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) Transit and Rail Division.

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A Letter from Rail Runner General Manager Kevin Merlo

Posted April 14, 2021 - In the early days of March 2020, the staff assigned to the New Mexico Rail Runner Express were asking themselves the same thing every transit agency was asking: “How do we respond to this new virus that is rapidly spreading worldwide? How can we clean the equipment effectively? How can we reassure the public that the trains are safe and clean?” 

Then, like many other enterprises, the commuter rail service was suspended in wake of the COVID-19 health pandemic. The Rail Runner reopened its doors to a small but enthusiastic group of passengers on March 8, 2021 - nearly a year to the date after service was suspended.

In this letter, General Manager Kevin Merlo provides an overview of the hard work and accomplishments that took place during the service suspension, and takes a look at what is next for the Rail Runner and its staff.

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Rail Runner Staff Welcomes Passengers

Transit Operator Appreciation Day

Posted March 15, 2021 - March 18, 2021 is Transit Operator Appreciation Day. Rio Metro would like to extend a heartfelt "Thank You" to all of our transit employees. You are truly the SUPERHEROES of public transportation!  

In this post you will meet some of Rio Metro’s outstanding staff, including a Rio Metro Bus Operator from Valencia County, a Dispatcher from Sandoval County, and the Quality Assurance Coordinator for the New Mexico Rail Runner Express.

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Transit Operator Appreciation Day Rio Metro

Job Access Transportation Program: Overcoming Barriers to Transportation             

Posted on February 17, 2021 - Lack of access to affordable and reliable transportation can be one of the biggest hurdles to finding and keeping a job. Rio Metro’s Job Access Transportation Program was developed to help low-income individuals overcome transportation obstacles by providing transportation to work and employment training.

“We provide reliable curb-to-curb transportation to low-income residents of Bernalillo County,” says Jocelyn Martinez, Program Support Coordinator II, for the Rio Metro Regional Transit District. “Individuals can use it to access employment, job training, and daycare if needed.”

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Rio Metro Job Access Transportation Program

MRMPO: Planning for Our Future

Posted on January 20, 2021 -  As a metropolitan area grows, changes, and ages, so does transportation in the region. Transportation, in turn, affects the economy, the environment, safety, and more. 

That’s where Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) come in to play. Federal law requires that urbanized areas with populations of 50,000 or more have an MPO to carry out metropolitan transportation and programs. The Mid-Region Metropolitan Planning Organization, or MRMPO, is the MPO for the Albuquerque Metropolitan Planning Area.

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Metropolitan Planning Organization Logo

An End-of-Year Message from the Director

Posted December 16, 2020 -  Happy Holidays Everyone!

As we embrace the season of giving and head toward turning the page on what has undoubtedly been an interesting year to say the least, I am reminded that despite the hardships we have faced during much of this year, there is much for which to be grateful.

Though the global public health crisis has forced commuter rail service to be suspended, and much of our bus service curtailed the past several months, our Rio Metro family has grown stronger and more united through it all. I believe that this unforeseen postponement has given us all a greater appreciation for what we do, and our mission has never been more vital to those we serve.

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Message from the Director

Dial-a-Ride: An Essential Service

Posted November 18, 2020 - It’s been nearly a year since the COVID-19 health pandemic drastically changed the way people live, work, socialize, and move about the world. While many businesses are operating in a limited capacity, or have been shut down entirely, Rio Metro recognizes that essential employees still need to get to work, and that people still need access to grocery stores, medical services, and more. 

Rio Metro’s Dial-a-Ride buses continue to operate, and many individuals who have no other means of transportation depend on the service. 

“We’re a lifeline for the majority of the people we transport,” says Carol Mathews, Acting Transit Manager for Rio Metro Sandoval, which operates the Rio Rancho Dial-a-Ride. 

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Dial a Ride Bus in Rio Rancho

Design for  Valencia County Transit Facility Underway

Posted October 27, 2020 - The design for Rio Metro's Valencia County Transit Facility is underway. This new facility will enable Rio Metro to relocate its bus administration and operations from two at-capacity facilities leased from the Village of Los Lunas and shared with other Village services. It will also give Rio Metro the ability to enlarge its bus fleet in future years and provide even more service to Valencia County residents.  

This first phase will feature administration/operations and storage buildings, a customer service area, and staff, visitor and bus parking. Pending additional funding, future phases will include expanded bus parking as well as a maintenance building, wash bay, and fuel island. These future improvements will, however, be considered during the current design effort.  

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Valencia County Transit Facility Mock Up

4th Annual Rail Safety Week - Ramping Up Efforts Around the State

Posted September 23, 2020 - The Fourth Annual Rail Safety Week is underway! From September 21-27, 2020 Rio Metro is joining railroad companies and operators in the U.S., Mexico and Canada in an effort to raise awareness about rail safety education and empower the public to keep themselves safe near railroad tracks, crossings, and right-of-ways. 

Rio Metro Regional Transit District, which operates the New Mexico Rail Runner Express commuter train, is ramping up educational efforts during this year’s Rail Safety Week. The campaign includes a mixture of national and local messaging, and a series of new safety videos featuring Trax, the Rail Runner mascot. 

We also spoke with Joanne Beer, Executive Director of New Mexico Operation Lifesaver, about Rail Safety Week initiatives around the state and learned what her favorite rail safety message to share with the public is.

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Rail Safety Week Logo

Rio Metro's Bus Schedules Have a New Look!

Posted August 19, 2020 - Rio Metro’s bus schedules recently got a makeover. The schedule brochures were redesigned to meet the organization’s goal of clearly communicating information about the transit services provided within our service area. 

“They have a fresh new look,” says Elizabeth Carter, Assistant Transit Director for Rio Metro Bus. “The new schedule brochures were designed to look like traditional bus transit brochures, making them easier than ever to use.”

Some of the key elements of the redesign include numbered stops, a legend and identifiable zone changes.

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Rio Metro Bus Schedules Get New Look

New Rail Safety Activity Sheets

Posted July 29, 2020 - Across the country, kids have been home for months, and the start of the school year may be a virtual experience for many. If you’re a parent or a teacher looking for fun and educational resources for the kids, Rio Metro’s new rail safety activity sheets are for you! These free, downloadable resources are perfect for elementary age kids. 

Here’s a sample of some of the activities included: 

  • Solve the maze to get the basketball player safely across the tracks to the hoop.
  • Find important rail safety terms in the hidden word search.
  • Solve the crossword puzzle to learn what to do to stay safe at a railroad station.
  • Figure out the word scramble to learn about important railroad signs and signals.

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Connect the Dots Activity Sheet