ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Business owners believe the city isn’t doing its best to accommodate thousands of people downtown and they want to change that. For decades, Albuquerque has been a stopover for train passengers along the Southwest. 1950s rail service videos show passengers getting off and shopping.
However, today it looks a little different. Albuqeurque is now a service stop for Amtrak with passengers making stops in the city for nearly an hour, according to Amtrak.
“It’s a gift for the city. It’s a gift they’ve never opened, ”said Patricia Hoech, owner of Patricia Designs. She’s a long-time downtown business owner, but for her, today’s stopover doesn’t offer what it once was.
“You get off the train and it’s this sterile, unwelcoming, unattractive,” Hoech said. She and other downtown businesses want to welcome Amtrak passengers. Some are looking for something similar to the welcome monitor and information booth that the Albuquerque International Sunport has.
“The movie is filmed with native dancers, the mountains and the river – you are instantly captivated by what Albuquerque must be like,” Hoech said. She said she had been trying to work on this project with the city for years and had even made renderings of a kiosk with brochures and maps showing where train passengers can walk for a ride. souvenir, a cup of coffee or a bite to eat before turning back the clock. in the next train.
Other business owners have agreed to provide some sort of welcome kiosk for Amtrak passengers.
“Not only to increase the income of these small businesses, but to show tourists that there are other things to see in Albuquerque while they are here for a little visit,” said Karla Moore, owner of Simply Sinful Donuts which just opened in the historic Simms building.
“Being new to downtown, I quickly noticed a trend of Amtrak passengers coming into my studio gallery on Gold and 4th. It became apparent that some sort of mention of the shops and restaurants in the area to travelers who have a 45-minute rest stop at the Alvarado transport hub was going to happen, so I contacted different departments in the city. . I later learned that some sort of cultural welcome was an ongoing effort for decades. I would love to see some kind of welcome kiosk arrive soon, because a store like mine with an assortment of everything local would go well with the foot traffic of tourists, ”said Amy Baca Lopez, gallery owner in the Simms building.
Hoech argues that a good experience can lead to future Albuquerque tourism. “If someone comes in and takes such a nice walk around town for half an hour, they say you know I could come back to Albuquerque.” I could make Albuquerque a little weekend getaway and then they would buy a hotel room, ”she said.
Amtrak said that an information or welcome kiosk like this is not unusual for their stations, but that they are tenants of the building and such a decision would be up to the city, which owns it. of the building.
“The downtown Amtrak train and the Greyhound bus station are both leased to these companies by the City of Albuquerque. The city has met with local businesses downtown about a kiosk there and will be looking for ways to support them in their work with tenants, ”said Johnny Chandler, spokesperson for the Albuquerque Planning Department. .
Tania Armenta, President and CEO of Visit Albuquerque sent the following statement in an email:
“It’s inspiring to see downtown business owners take the initiative to market this group of travelers, and it looks like a great opportunity to get more attention from these visitors. Visit Albuquerque has partnered with Amtrak over the years on various marketing initiatives and we actively market to travelers in the markets served by Amtrak. The organization has also been involved in past efforts to provide information to visitors to the transport hub, with mixed results. We would be happy to revisit the conversation to brainstorm new ideas on an ideal solution.. ”