Albuquerque is a transport hub for New Mexico, here you can take Amtrak's Southwest Chief service which travels west to Los Angeles and east to Chicago with numerous stops in either direction; this service departs from the Alvarado Transportation Centre.
Also located to the rear of the Transportation Centre is the station for the New Mexico Rail Runner (see separate tip).
Of course, the Alvarado Transportation Centre is also home to the Greyhound Station which serves to connect to towns around New Mexico, Arizona, the Southwest USA and onwards to the wider United States.
Local bus services also operate from the Transportation Centre offering options around the Albuquerque area.
Greyhound services operate between Albuquerque and a number of locations throughout New Mexico and on to other states.
I took the service from Albuquerque to El Paso, Texas. There are three daily services running from Albuquerque (NM) to El Paso (TX), two run in the early hours of the morning whilst the third leaves Albuquerque around teatime and arrives in the evening.
I had originally planned to take an Amtrak train from Albuquerque and run through Gallup, Winslow and Flagstaff but found the train times inconvenient. The Greyhound service gave me lots of options and I eventually chose to go from Albuquerque to El Paso, then Tucson and Phoenix before heading to Flagstaff.
By opting to take a one night stop in El Paso and then on to Tucson, I spent around half the time on the road and saved $10 than if I had opted to take the Greyhound website route from Albuquerque to Tucson which was via Flagstaff and Phoenix - worth bearing in mind when planning a road trip using Greyhound.
Single tickets from Albuquerque to El Paso cost between US$26 and US$35, depending on the flexibility you require from your ticket (prices accurate at October 2011).
For those tourists visiting Albuquerque without a car, the New Mexico Rail Runner will give you an opportunity to get around some of the nearby towns, including ever-popular Santa Fe.
The Rail Runner offers an infrequent service (check schedule) which runs from Santa Fe in the north, down through Kewa, Sandoval, Bernalillo, Sandia Pueblo to Albuquerque and on to Isleta Pueblo, Los Luna to Belen in the south.
Fares are very reasonable, ranging from US$2 (accurate November 2011) for a single journey, through to a maximum of US$9 for a day pass (cheaper fares are available by purchasing your tickets online in advance).A day return fare between Albuquerque and Santa Fe was US$8.
Rail Runner trains give excellent views with their double-storey design and pass through stunning scenery, although there is a photography exclusion lasting some 30 minutes on the Albuquerque-Santa Fe route whilst it passes through Native American land.
The trains are comfortable and offer a selection of seating options.
At times of festivals and special events extra and late trains are added to the standard schedule.
This is a commuter train as well as a short run to SAnta Fe. The rain appears to get a lot of people riding, mainly due to the traffic on the highway and the cost of driving. Most Indians cannot afford to spend a lot, or even own a vehicle. Pick up points are from ABQ downtown to Bernalilllo and beyond to pueblos to the north
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a spectacular event attended by hundreds of thousands of people each year. Although Albuquerque is rather spread out, you can get along without a rental car if you wish. A specific alternative would be to stay in the Albuquerque Uptown area and use the Fiesta Express Park and Ride from the Coronado Mall to the Balloon Fiesta. There are many hotels and restaurants in the Uptown area. It is also serviced by the Rapid Ride Red Line, which also goes to many of the key tourist areas in town. The Red Line also goes to downtown where you can catch the Rail Runner if you want to take a side trip to Santa Fe.
BTW, be careful of that Uptown hotel list. The Clubhouse Inn is in it and it is not in Uptown. Although it is a pretty good place to stay, the Clubhouse Inn is actually west of I-25. Also, all of the indicated hotel rates will be much higher during the Balloon Fiesta. The same goes for the restaurant list. Just check the map for the ones within walking distance, which is mostly the Louisiana-San Pedro-Indian School-Menaul quadrant.
This train is very convenient for traveling between Albuquerque to Santa Fe.
You can either buy a ticket online or even on the train itself.
Seating is available on a first come - first served basis.
Purchasing a ticket in advance online does not guarantee a seat.
However it does give discounted fare for ticket passes.
New Mexico has added (2006) the Rail Runner from Belem (south of Albuquerque) to Santa Fe. It provides commuter support and numerous times that serve visitors well. We were able to stay in Albuquerque and run up to Santa Fe for the day. Low cost (less than the price of the gas to drive). Santa Fe has connecting public transport. It was relaxing, convenient, and all round great way to go.
Amtrak provides daily service from Chicago and Los Angeles. The California Zepher takes 2 1/2 days to cross the country, stopping an many places along the route. The Los Angeles train is 12 hours out, arriving from the west each day around noon. The Chicago train is 24 hours out, arriving after 3:00 p.m. each day.
Definitely the most comfortable way to get here. The coach is a lot more comfortable than on any bus or plane, plus you have a dining car, a cafe car and a lounge car. Can't beat it. Unless you're willing to pay for a sleeper car, but that's expensive.
Albuquerque Rapid Ride is fast and cheep.
Round Trip is one Dollar.
The Bus Runs till 8 pm during the week.
Destinations served by Rapid Ride include the Biopark, Old Town,Downtown,
Presbyterian Hospital, University of New
Mexico, Nob Hill, International Market, NM Expo at the State Fairgrounds, and Uptown.
Consider driving to a free park and ride and then boarding
Rapid Ride After Dark
Friday and Saturday nights until 3 a.m. from Memorial Day weekend through September
A security guard is stationed on each Rapid After Dark vehicle
The bus goes east to west from Wyoming to Unser and stops at Uptown near Corando Mall.
My daughter and I ride the bus from Uptown Bus Staion to Downtown Albuquerque for the Summer Fest during the summer. It is a fun and easy way to get Downtown and not have to drive.
Our local transit / bus company has started a new route called Rapid Ride. This route follows Central Avenue / Old Route 66 through various neighborhoods including the west side, Old Town, downtown, the University area, Nob Hill, all the way to the Wyoming ..... a great option if you hate looking for parking or prefer to be a passenger :)
They just announced the extension of Rapid Ride services on Friday and Saturday nights until 3 a.m. from Memorial Day weekend through September. Rapid service will run every 10 minutes until 8 p.m. and then every 20 minutes between 8 p.m. and 3 a.m.
Passengers using Rapid After Dark will be able to use their monthly bus pass or pay the $1 fare.
I took a bus down from Denver and a train back to Chicago. I would say that whatever your tastes, bus or train, do not miss the beautiful landscapes of New Mexico by taking an airplane. Wherever you are, if your schedule allows it, it's worth the extra couple of hours it will take you to get there.