Saturday, December 6, 2008

New Train Brings UNM into Ranks of Commuter Schools

I read with great interest a report in the Daily Lobo, the student newspaper at the University of New Mexico, that the New Mexico Rail Runner will offer fare discounts to UNM students on its new line between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, where the university is located.

Transit discounts for college students is nothing unusual. What struck me is the notion that the the new train makes commuting from Santa Fe, 60 miles from Albuquerque, feasible for UNM students, many of whom are poor and members of minority groups. The trip will take around 90 minutes and cost about $80 a month with the student discount. Plus, the students will be able to ride for free on the bus between the Alvarado Transportation Center, where Rail Runner trains stop, and the UNM campus.

I was intrigued because many students at The City College of New York, where I am Director of Public Relations, put in about the same amount of time and money to get to class via the New York City subway system. The difference is they are coming from the outer reaches of Brooklyn and Queens rather than another city 60 miles away. My own commute, from Oceanside, Long Island, via the Long Island Rail Road and A train, consumes the same amount of time, but costs close to $300 a month (The distance is 26 miles following Mapquest's directions.).

I suspect that UNM students, whose demographics are similar to those of CCNY students, will use their train time the way our students do - to study. But they'll have an advantage: a smoother, quieter ride on new bilevel coaches and better odds of getting a seat!

As for me, let me state for the record, in case my boss or anyone else from CCNY is reading this, that I love my job and I love City College. But if the Director of Communications job at UNM becomes open, I just might be tempted send my resume.

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