Amtrak runs the Southwest Chief once daily through the city, connecting Los Angeles and Chicago. Few people take this option, as the train is slow and uncomfortable for long stretches if you’re not in a sleeper, but it runs through untouched land, and it’s a stellar way to arrive in Albuquerque. Stepping onto the platform downtown, you’re seeing the city just as curious tourists did in the late-19th century. Things might be a bit glitzier now, but some things haven’t changed: American Indians still wait to sell their craftwork to passengers.
Albuquerque International Sunport is a modern single-terminal airport on the south side of the city. Clean and relatively uncrowded (except during Balloon Fiesta in October), it also features free wireless Internet, nice art on the walls and even weekly musical performances by string bands and mariachi groups. Unlike many airports, it's actually a treat to arrive here. Despite the grand name, it receives only domestic flights, from all the major national carriers. An ABQ Ride city bus (#50) goes to downtown Albuquerque every day but Sunday, and another shuttle runs express to the main commuter rail stop (the Rail Runner), also downtown. But it’s more likely that you’ll rent a car or use a service such as Sunport Shuttle. To downtown hotels, it’s $11; to Old Town, $15; and to Corrales, $40.
Greyhound offers connecting bus service with major cities in all directions, though it is infrequent. Compared with the train, it is only marginally cheaper, and much less comfortable. Adventurous travelers on a budget might make use of the efficient and inexpensive bus services catering to Mexican workers across the Southwest. El Paso—Los Angeles Limousine Express is the main company. It helps to have a basic command of Spanish to make arrangements, but the buses are plush and organized, better than Greyhound in many respects.
If you want a taxi in Albuquerque, you’ll have to call one. Be prepared for a bit of a wait, and to shell out some cash--rates run between $2 and $3 per mile. Albuquerque Cab Company is one of the few providers.
Most visitors to Albuquerque assume a car is necessary, but at least for a short visit, Albuquerque transportation can work for you if you give it a chance. The main neighborhoods (Old Town, downtown and the university and Nob Hill area) are conveniently adjacent along Central Avenue, and ABQ Ride, the city transit service, links them all with a single bus--Route #66, appropriately. Or keep an eye out for the slick Rapid Ride buses on this route (#766)--they run express and have free Wi-Fi. All buses have bike racks in front, in case you want to integrate public transportation and recreation. The one big drawback: severely limited service on Sundays. Bus fare is $1, or $2 for a day pass, payable in cash on board.
If you’re staying longer than a couple of days and want to see anything in greater Albuquerque, you’ll almost certainly have to rent a car. With two interstates, a pretty sensible grid system, and few one-way streets, it’s easy enough to drive around here. Easy, that is, if there’s no construction. Which there always is. To our knowledge, there has never been a time in the past three decades when the freeways were completely free of orange barrels—they’re always blocking off some lane or other, snarling up traffic just where you need to go. So try to steer clear of the interstates, at least from 3-7PM or so, when rush-hour drivers are out in force.