New Member Info Requested (re Santa Fe, NM)

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by Hans627, Jun 16, 2019.

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  1. Jun 16, 2019 #1

    Hans627

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    Hans627

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    Hello,

    I'm a new member here so be easy on me if I asked a few dumb questions.

    Wife and I are thinking of a trip to Santa Fe. But it appears that the SWC doesn't stop at Santa Fe. It looks like the closest stop is Lamy or Albuquerque.

    Is there a place to rent a car in Lamy? Or should I go to Albuquerque and rent a car there? We will be spending some time in Santa Fe and Taos.

    Any other input appreciated.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Jun 16, 2019 #2

    MARC Rider

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    I did this in 2015. They should have a Thruway connecting service from Lamy to Santa Fe. You should be able to buy a through ticket. The connecting service is a van, and the driver will take you to any point within the city of Santa Fe. We were renting a car, though, and the car rental was at the Santa Fe airport, which is outside the city limits. Thus, we had to pay a bit extra. If I did it again, I's just go to Albuquerque and rent a car there, as the train station is pretty close to the airport. Also, I think they don't handle checked baggage at Lamy any more. But if you only have carry-on luggage and you're going straight to a hotel or other place in Santa Fe, the thruway connection should be fine.
     
  3. Jun 16, 2019 #3

    me_little_me

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    My suggestion: Check off-airport (i.e. downtown Santa Fe) rental car locations. Generally, airport locations charge higher rates. May not make a difference for a day but I've seen rates at $10+ more at the airport and over a week or more, that adds up.

    But I have found Santa Fe more expensive for car rentals than ABQ, particularly for ABQ off-airport. You should have no trouble finding an off-airport location in ABQ that will come pick you up at no charge with better rates than the airport. In fact, often airport locations offer off-airport rentals at a better price when you don't fly in. Renting in ABQ means driving to Santa Fe (1 hour on I-25) but if you take the (longer) Turquoise Trail (NM14), you get to see the interesting towns of Cerillos, Madrid and more. Nice ride and lots of interesting things to look at along the way.
     
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  4. Jun 16, 2019 #4

    Bob Dylan

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    Agree with riding the Chief to Albuqurque handpicking up your car there.( Hopefully the Chief will not be too late, it's currently very undependable due to Weather and Freight problems)
     
  5. Jun 16, 2019 #5

    dbfrese

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  6. Jun 16, 2019 #6

    Railroad Bill

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    I agree with Jim that going into ABQ and renting car there is a better bet. There is a Enterprise not far from the station that will pick you up. There is a bit of a problem if 3 is running very late. I was told the airport Enterprise would honor reservations but they do not pickup and you would need to get a cab, Uber, etc to the ABQ airport. We just made it to ABQ with fifteen minutes to spare for the local Enterprise, but they were nice and came over to the station and picked us up at closing time. Bringing the car back to ABQ Enterprise and dropoff at the station was a breeze.
     
  7. Jun 16, 2019 #7

    Rasputin

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    Amtrak contracts with the Roadrunner Shuttle and we have used this service to go between Lamy and Santa Fe several times. You can buy a through ticket on Amtrak which includes your Amtrak train transportation and the Roadrunner Shuttle. I don't believe that Amtrak will sell you a ticket only between Lamy and Santa Fe. You can also arrange to use the service by calling the shuttle at their number listed on the Amtrak timetable if you don't book it through Amtrak.

    I believe it is slightly less expensive to buy a through ticket on the shuttle through Amtrak than it is to buy this service directly from the shuttle company. As I recall we were once using a companion ticket and that cannot be used on the shuttle so we had to book our train ticket only to Lamy and make a separate reservation for the shuttle directly with Roadrunner.

    When you leave Santa Fe for Lamy to board your train, you call the shuttle service the day before your departure and make arrangements to be picked up.

    Unless the Legal Tender restaurant has reopened in Lamy, there are no services there except that there were people selling burgers and drinks on the Santa Fe Southern property beside the station a couple years ago. I don't know if they still do this. I don't believe Lamy has a ticket agent now and I don't believe it has checked baggage (although the timetable on the Amtrak website dated July 31, 2018 still lists checked baggage). Maybe someone can clarify this. Fortunately I believe the station continues to be staffed by local volunteers and I understand they are doing a great job.

    When we have visited Santa Fe we have rented a car from Enterprise in town and that worked out well.

    We have been pleased with the Roadrunner Shuttle service at Lamy and see no reason to detrain at Albuquerque when visiting Santa Fe.

    By the way, the station at Lamy is a beautiful small station. We enjoyed waiting for the train there.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2019
  8. Jun 16, 2019 #8

    SarahZ

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    This really isn't necessary, though, since Amtrak provides Thruway service from Lamy to Santa Fe.

    If you have the van driver drop you off near the Plaza, there is a Hertz about a block away. You can also take some time to browse the vendors and see Loretto Chapel and its famous staircase. Browsing the vendors is a neat experience that I recommend even if you are traveling elsewhere from Santa Fe.

    Alternately, you could have them bring you to The Pantry, on NM-14 (Cerillos Rd). There are three car rental places within a block or two, and The Pantry is one of the best restaurants in Santa Fe. The driver will be familiar with it.
     
  9. Jun 17, 2019 #9

    Manny T

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    When you travel from Santa Fe to Lamy, is the van scheduled so that you arrive in Lamy for the scheduled departure time of the SWC, or for the actual departure time of the SWC when it is running late?

    It seems from the Legal Tender restaurant's website that it is "opening soon," not open at present.
    https://thelegaltendersaloon.com/
    If you check for "restaurants" in Lamy NM on Yelp, you won't find any.

    It seems possible to use ABQ as the station for Santa Fe, and to use the Rail Runner commuter train to travel between ABQ and Santa Fe.
     
  10. Jun 17, 2019 #10

    Rasputin

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    Yes some people do use the Rail Runner commuter train to detrain from Amtrak at Albuquerque and take the Rail Runner train directly to Santa Fe and bypass the stop at Lamy. We thought of doing that when we were on No. 4 once but there would have been a long wait in Albuquerque between the arrival of No. 4 just before noon and the departure of next Rail Runner which at that time would have been late afternoon. I am not sure how the schedules are now. I think that No. 3 and the Rail Runner might offer a better connection.

    We have only used the Lamy shuttle to connect with No. 4 to and from Lamy. In our limited experience the shuttle normally leaves to connect with the train on the train's scheduled time. On one of our trips No. 4 was running about an hour late but the shuttle still left Santa Fe at the normal time as if the train was on time. I am not sure what the practice is if the train was several hours late. I don't know if the shuttle picks up passengers in Santa Fe at the same time for both 3 and 4 or not.

    I believe from what the driver once told me that if 3 and 4 are both going to arrive at Lamy within a short time of each other they will wait and take passengers from both trains to Santa Fe in one trip but if one train is delayed they will take passengers to Santa Fe from the first train and then return to Lamy for passengers from the second train. Maybe someone has had more experience with this or perhaps a call to the shuttle would clarify this.
     
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  11. Jun 17, 2019 #11

    seat38a

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    You'r going to have to be careful of limited weekend hours for many of the non airport locations. Many non airport locations have limited Saturday hours and vast majority are closed on Sundays. The ABQ airport rental car lot, which is actually off airport, has the most options and extended hours.

    When I visited ABQ, we picked up our rental at the ABQ Airport rental car lot and drove to Santa Fe. We used Uber (No Lyft in 2016) to get back to the station for our SWC train back to LA.

    Also, remember that the thruway from Lamy to Santa Fe is not cheap. Right now, when I do random bookings, its about $40/person EACH WAY.

    Hypothetical booking for rental without any discounts at Enterprise is $92.00 total out the door at ABQ airport.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019
  12. Jun 17, 2019 #12

    Rasputin

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    Thanks for pointing that out and I meant to do so. That seems to be the correct price when we have used it.
     
  13. Jun 17, 2019 #13

    MARC Rider

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    I rented from the airport because I was doing a one-way rental, dropping off in Denver, and for some reason, the rental car companies would only let me book from airport locations. When I dropped the car in Denver, I had to take it back to DIA and ride the bus back to Union Station (this was before the train started up.)

    We picked up in Santa Fe on a weekend afternoon. When we go there, not too late either, the public terminal was closed (not a lot of scheduled flights out of Santa Fe), so was the rental agency. We had to go over to the general aviation fixed base operator and pick up our keys and car there. You do have to be careful with off-airport rental car offices, their hours, especially on weekends, are definitely restricted.
     
  14. Jun 17, 2019 #14

    Devil's Advocate

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    Last I checked there was nothing service oriented in Lamy other than some empty buildings and an unstaffed station that may be open or may be locked.
    • ATM not available
    • No payphones
    • No Quik-Trak kiosks
    • Unaccompanied child travel not allowed
    • No vending machines
    • No WiFi
    • No checked baggage service
    • Bike boxes not available
    • No baggage carts
    • Ski bags not available
    • No bag storage
    • Shipping boxes not available
    • No baggage assistance
    I would be rather hesitant to place my trip in the hands of a bus service that may or may not be waiting when my train arrives in an area with no other services and very spotty cell phone coverage. If any little thing goes wrong (ticketing mistake, broken bus, weather problem, sick driver, etc.) there is no obvious alternative to get your trip back on track. The limited Road Runner service isn't scheduled to connect with the SWC in a reasonable amount of time. That leaves disembarking and renting a car in ABQ as the best solution IMO. You could probably rent a car and fill up the tank for less than Lamy's $160 bus service ($40x2x2). I have someone who can pick me up in Lamy, but Amtrak's skeletal network and limited scheduling means that traveling from South TX to Northern NM takes three times longer than driving.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019
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  15. Jun 17, 2019 #15

    Hans627

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    Thank you all for the great input. After reviewing all the options proposed we decided to detrain in ABQ, spend a night there, Wed. 8/30, and then get a rental car the next morning for a leisurely drive to Santa Fe. I think it will be a little less hassle doing it this way as opposed to detraining in Lamy. My DW has a bad back and the less getting on and off of vans, etc., is best for her.

    I have yet to rent a car. Not sure if we can pick one up in ABQ (downtown) and drop off at the airport a week later (as we will be flying home due to time constraints). Any suggestions appreciated.

    Also, any recommendations regarding a hotel near the train station for the night we arrive there? Within walking distance if possible.

    Again thanks for your willingness to assist.
     
  16. Jun 17, 2019 #16

    Rasputin

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    We used the Roadrunner Shuttle service twice in 2017 and twice in 2018 and found them to be very reliable. The service requires a reservation and they have your name and what train you will be on. They showed up on time at our hotel and were waiting at the station when our train arrived.

    I have not been to Lamy since the Agent was removed (Summer of 2018 I believe). An article in the Santa Fe New Mexican a while back indicated that a group of local volunteers was keeping the station open and assisting passengers. I don't know the current situation but hopefully someone can tell us.

    As I understand it, the Legal Tender Saloon in Lamy was being renovated and reopened by the same people who recently reopened the Hotel Castenada in Las Vegas. I don't know the current status of the Legal Tender.
     
  17. Jun 17, 2019 #17

    Chicoan

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    Hello--did a similar trip a few weeks ago (actually we flew in and took Amtrak #3 home, the reverse of your plan). The "on-site" airport car rental in ABQ is actually a few blocks from the airport. We stayed at the Best Western Airport hotel; their shuttle both picked us up and later took us to car rental. All within a radius of <1 mile.
    When preparing for our train trip home we returned the car to a location near to the train station; this was Budget Rent a Car, and the drop-off was in a hotel. However the hotel we stayed in that night was a Hyatt which is only about 3 blocks from Amtrak. It was not cheap but less expensive than a couple historic hotels which had been recommended to me by folks on this forum. And a great served (not buffet unless you choose that) breakfast was included.
    While in the area, you might wish to add Las Vegas NM to your itinerary; we loved it. History; nice historic hotels that are affordable, etc.
    There is also a very useful Friends of the Southwest Chief Facebook group.
     
  18. Jun 17, 2019 #18

    Devil's Advocate

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    I found Amtrak Thruway shuttles to be very reliable too. Until one day when I showed up in STL and they had no idea who I was and no record of me traveling with them. It was dumb luck that they had other passengers to collect that day and good fortune that the shuttle was driven by someone who was willing to go out of his way to get me sorted. After that experience I stopped assuming a Thruway bus would always be there simply because I was paid up with ticket in hand. In a city like St. Louis, MO if things go South you have options to resolve and recover. Whereas in the case of a quiet rural outpost like Lamy, NM you have little more than the kindness of strangers to depend upon. If the station were staffed I wouldn't be nearly as circumspect, but that ship has already sailed and won't be coming back.
     
  19. Jun 17, 2019 #19

    PaulM

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    I was there a couple of months ago and there was a very nice coffee shop/snack bar in the station. The coffee shop operators and volunteers appeared to be one in the same. When I asked the volunteer if he was an Amtrak subcontractor, he said he contracted with Santa Fe Southern Railway, the owner of the station and currently defunct tourist train operator.
     
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  20. Jun 18, 2019 #20

    Barb Stout

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    A really lovely hotel about 3 blocks from the Amtrak station in ABQ is Hotel Andaluz. There is also a Cinemark movie theatre across the street from the Amtrak station, if you want to catch a movie. Lots of restaurants to choose from also, of course.
     
  21. Jun 18, 2019 #21

    Barb Stout

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    And speaking of Lamy, is that a "fresh air stop"? I have only seen the Lamy station from the train and it seems so darling that I want to get off and check it out. How much time does one have to do that? Also, I imagine everyone on this forum knows this, but in case you don't, Lamy is the train stop where all the Los Alamos nuclear bomb developers back in the '40s got to NM.
     
  22. Jun 18, 2019 #22

    Rasputin

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    Lamy is not a fresh air stop. It is fairly close to Albuquerque which is an extended stop as you probably know.

    The Lamy station is a real gem which some very attractive decorative tiles on the interior. We have always had a pleasant time waiting there or walking around the settlement if the train is running late. There are also some historical plaques near the station explaining the history of El Ortiz Harvey House which was located there. As I understand it, El Ortiz was the smallest Harvey House in the system.
     
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  23. Jun 18, 2019 #23

    Devil's Advocate

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    That's a positive development. I honestly thought Santa Fe Southern was dead and gone. According to a quick web search the bar/restaurant across the street is hoping to reopen sometime this summer. Things were looking pretty bleak last time I was there but if the coffee shop and bar can remain viable perhaps Lamy will see a turn of fortune.
     
  24. Jun 18, 2019 #24

    JustOnce

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    Despite its name the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (which built the line and operated the predecessor Super Chief) did not run its main line through Santa Fe. Years later it did extend a branch line to its third namesake city. That's why it doesn't stop at Santa Fe.
     
  25. Jun 18, 2019 #25

    Lana J C

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    Lamy is a beautiful historic station in what looks like the middle of nowhere. But, right over the hill is Interstate 25 and the shuttle van will take you quickly to Santa Fe. We need to keep using the Lamy station or they will close it down. Albuquerque may have cheaper rental cars but is farther away from Taos and Santa Fe and will take longer. Pick Lamy!
     
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