The good news for people who want to go places is that Greyhound is back. What's not as good is the national transit chain's newest routes "to Santa Fe" don't get very close to the city.
Greyhound relaunched its service in the region last month from a gas station in Eldorado—11 miles from the city limits.
Corporate regional manager Ed van Heel tells SFR the new routes are part of push to restore bus service to several locations that the company pulled out of during major cutbacks in the mid-2000s.
"We are always looking at our old locations that we used to serve and basically trying to bring back bus service in those communities. That has been kind of our focus in the last few years," he says.
Today's buses serve about 3,800 stops nationwide, are 10 years old or newer and have wi-fi, in-seat power and lavatories.
"It's affordable more than airlines, especially in rural areas versus major metros," he says.
Two northbound and two southbound buses per day now take passengers from the Eldorado stop to Denver ($45-$63), El Paso ($51-$66) and points further.
Greyhound formerly served Santa Fe from a centrally located depot on St. Michael's Drive, but stopped stopping there circa 2005 (van Heel says he can't pinpoint the exact date). Developers of the New Mexico Rail Runner Express eyed the spot for a train station in 2007, later settling on stations north and south at different locations. About four years ago, Just Sprinklers opened at the spot.
Getting to and from the Phillips 66 in Eldorado where the buses stop now isn't easy. Blue buses operated by the North Central Regional Transit District deliver passengers to the Agora Shopping Center, about one-third of a mile from the gas station off Highway 84/285, and connection times don't match up. The closest the RTD buses get you to the 3:15 pm Greyhound's southbound departure on Monday, for example, is 10:40 am.
RTD spokesman Jim Nagle says he learned about Greyhound's arrival from the newspaper. "It unfortunate, because it would have been great if we could have coordinated on that," he tells SFR.
The public agency expects to update its five-year transit service plan in the next six months, and will look at aligning with the long-distance commercial buses. Currently, five blue buses each day run to and from the suburb to Santa Fe, where passengers can link to Santa Fe Trails and the train.
"Absolutely we would be interested in trying to make some connections that make sense," Nagle says.
Phillips station manager Wayne Scarber says passengers are slowly hearing about the service.
"It's going to take a while," he says, noting that riders would do well to plan ahead before they arrive on the buses. "One bus gets here after 2 am and the station is not open."
The area's only commercial cab company shut down last year, so the remaining option is to rely on Uber and Lyft drivers. With buses arriving and departing between 3 and 4 am each day, Scarber's advice seems sound; riders should "have somebody ready for them."
It's worth noting, too, that the city's Santa Fe Trails buses don't run at those hours even if the stop was inside the city limits. A Greyhound spokewoman says the company chose the out-of-town stop to avoid schedule delays that can arise from city traffic. The routes are offered in partnership with Arrow Stage lines, which means depending on the day, passengers might board a bus with either company's markings. Tickets are available online and inside the Phillips 66, located at 7 Colina Drive.