Historically, New Mexico has been an important location for trade and migration, both of which are facilitated by transportation infrastructure. For example, long before New Mexico was a state, the Chaco Canyon and Santa Fe Trail were important routes used by travelers. In 1854, the Gadsden Purchase was made in order to facilitate the construction of the Southern Pacific Railroad’s transcontinental route. Fast forwarding to today, transportation continues to support New Mexico’s contemporary trade and migration patterns. As of the year 2000, there are 2,354 route miles of railroads in New Mexico, and that number has grown since then due to the inauguration and subsequent extension of the Rail Runner Express. Most of these route miles are operated by BNSF and Union Pacific. However, there have been over 100 different railroads in operation within the borders New Mexico since the 1850s, including the Cumbres and Toltec narrow gauge scenic railway that is jointly owned with the state of Colorado. Many narrow gauge railroads were constructed in the northern part of the state in order to reduce costs associated with laying track in the mountainous terrain.
New Mexico’s largest cities, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Las Cruces, each have urban bus networks. NMDOT Park and Ride and North Central RTD are rural transit systems that also operate within the state. Albuquerque is constructing bus rapid transit routes along the busiest corridors served by ABQ Ride.