I’ve had people in my Uber on numerous occasions that were faced with that quandary. But if you’re visiting Santa Fe for the first time you really don’t need to rent a car because Uber and Lyft will get you where you’re going and you won’t have to contend with the hassle of downtown parking.
Regarding the ride share apps: In 2017 Uber drove the only cab company in Santa Fe out of business, so the ride share apps are your only options for getting around town quickly. Santa Fe does have city bus system and a tourist bus that drops off visitors to major attractions in the downtown district. If you arrive at the airport you might see big black SUVS that are available to take you to the historic district but they cost three times the amount you would pay for an Uber. It breaks my heart that even the elderly are at the mercy of the ride share apps but there is a way around that called GoGo Grandparent. You can call their toll-free number from any phone and they will hail the Uber or Lyft for you for a small upcharge. Alas, it’s an automated system but it’s the best option for those not adept at using a smart phone.
Getting back to Santa Fe is a small town with a big reputation. Although Uber and Lyft are plentiful throughout the day and on weekend nights, you may have to wait longer during off times. There are a some “Late Night Heroes” who will pick you up at two o’clock in the morning but they are few and far between. I always suggest that my riders have both the Uber and Lyft apps on their phone. Even if you absolutely hate the corporate culture of one of the above, at two in the morning, you’ll just have to contend with your disdain and pray that someone comes to get you. It’ll also take you longer to get a ride if you’re hailing from one of the restaurants outside of the Santa Fe perimeter. Most drivers will accept the shortest pick-ups before they venture 15 minutes out to get someone. If you’re invited to a party or event outside of the city limits, I’d suggest that you get a car and arrange to have someone in your group be the designated driver because it’ll be iffy trying to get a ride share driver to come pick you up late at night.
If you’re thinking of using Uber or Lyft to get to Tent Rocks, Bandelier or one of the villages up north, you’ll need to make arrangements for you driver to wait for you because you won’t be able to hail a ride back. Santa Fe and Albuquerque have numerous ride-share drivers but that service is not available in smaller markets and internet service can be unreliable. The typical charge during the summer high season is $35.00 an hour for a driver to wait at a certain location for passengers. The Blue Bus, (NCRTD), is a state-run entity, providing free transportation to northern New Mexico.
It’s more economical for two or more passengers to use Uber or Lyft to get to the airport in Albuquerque because the cost is comparable to that of the airport shuttle. I always suggest that you tip your driver for that long ride because it’s unlikely that they’ll get a return trip back.
The Santa Fe Railrunner is another option to consider in getting to the airport in Albuquerque but it’s mostly a commuter train for state employees, so it only runs at limited times throughout the day.
Here’s a good Uber/Lyft tip for Amtrak passengers: The shuttle bus that will take you and pick you up at the train station in Lamy costs $40.00 per person. The cost in an Uber from downtown Santa Fe will be around $25.00, no matter how many passengers. Again, I recommend that you tip your driver because they won’t get a ride back. If you want your driver to pick you up upon your return you will need to get your driver’s phone number and make arrangements to have them pick you up because there’s no internet service at that train station.
Regarding the Santa Fe Regional Airport: Don’t let our quaint little airport fool you. Just because it’s tiny doesn’t mean that they don’t take security seriously. You must be there in time for the gate check-in. I’ve had people in my Uber who arrived three minutes after their gate had closed and they were not allowed to board. That mishap meant a day of schlepping luggage around town. There are a limited number of daily flights, so if you miss one it’ll be several hours before you take off.