Meet the Trolley Guys: Jesse Herron (left) and Mike Silva, owners of ABQ Trolley Tours
“Yo, yo, yo, 1 4 8 3 to the 3 to the 6, to the 9, representin’ the ABQ.” With the final episode of Breaking Bad now here, fans of the landmark series can’t get enough of Albuquerque these days – and Albuquerque locals Jesse Herron and Mike Silva, founders of ABQ Trolley Co., are delivering on the goods.
For the past year, this business duo has offered visitors a custom-tailored tour of Breaking Bad’s shooting locations, from Saul Goodman’s office to Gus’s Laundromat. Hop aboard the trolley with these guys — Silva, with his Walter White-inspired black porkpie hat; Herron with a jersey sporting the words “Pinkman,” and get ready to embark on one wacky 3.5-hour odyssey through the heart of the show. And just in case you can’t make it to Albuquerque this season, fret not – this tour isn’t breaking bad anytime soon – here’s what ABQ Trolley’s Jesse Herron has to say.
Traveling Type: What does your Breaking Bad tour cover?
Jesse Herron: The tour is 3.5 hours — it covers about 38 miles around Albuquerque and the show’s major recurring locations: Jesse’s house; Walt’s house, Los Pollos Hermanos, which is about 20 minutes from the center of town, Jesse and Jane’s duplex, Walt’s condo, Saul Goodman’s law office in the Northeast Heights, the A1A car wash, Gus’s house, Gus’s laundry, Mike’s house is on there this season, too … the locations are spread out all over town. There are also many minor locations that riders will recognize seeing briefly from the show. There’s also Breaking Bad trivia with very cool prizes donated from local businesses.
Jesse Pinkman’s house (Photo: ABQ Trolley Co.)
Where do Breaking Bad visitors come from?
Last season it was mostly locals just because they snatched up all the tickets when news of the tour broke locally — this season it’s probably a 50-50 split between locals and visitors from all over the US and the world, like Germany, Australia, the UK, Mexico, the Netherlands, Paris, Singapore and the Philippines.
What surprises people on your Breaking Bad tours?
In the case of locals, they’re surprised that some of the sites — like the Laundromat Gus operates – have been around for years, and they have been driving past it without even noticing it for years. Same goes for Saul’s law office — it would be difficult to identify if someone didn’t know where it was and the fact that there is not, in fact, an inflatable statue of liberty adorning the roof. For out-of-town visitors, a lot of times they expect to see Albuquerque as just a desert — they’re surprised it’s not 115 degrees here … that we do have 4 seasons, there’s a river here, mountains, we have the largest urban forest in America here, one of the best preserved stretches of Route 66 is here, and there’s volcanoes. I think visitors arrive not knowing exactly what to expect but they leave blown away by the landscapes, culture and attractions here.
Is Breaking Bad’s portrayal of Albuquerque fair?
I don’t think Breaking Bad’s portrayal of Albuquerque would be something that would keep a fan of the show from coming to visit. A Breaking Bad fan would never say, ‘I’m not coming to Albuquerque because there’s a meth problem there.’ It’s not a problem here, and that’s not what the show is about — and in no way does Breaking Bad glorify meth or drug use. The locals that say they don’t like the way the show portrays Albuquerque are often the same people who have never seen the show. And, let’s not forget that it’s a TV show, it’s fiction! The show really highlights all things Albuquerque — from the local hamburger chain, local shops like Gertrude Zachary Jewelry to showing the characters drinking local beer, it’s all pretty accurate, down to the zip codes and neighborhoods.
Stop by Gus’s house (Photo: ABQ Trolley Co.)
How has Albuquerque embraced Breaking Bad?
I think that a lot of the locals are enjoying the new attention that Albuquerque has received because of the show. A handful of businesses have really embraced the show and are having fun with it. There’s a Breaking Bad beer, a Biking Bad [bike] tour, Breaking Bad bath salts (called ‘Bathing Bad’) … Marble Brewery is offering Heisenberg/Walter White-themed beers… you can even buy a sheet of blue candy from Great Face & Body that comes with a mallet and smash it up like Walt and Jesse do on the show.
With the show winding down, how are your tours doing?
This season of Breaking Bad, the tours sell out months in advance and are sold out through the end of October. For those people not booking months in advance, the next best thing is our Best of ABQ city tour — Tuesday through Sunday, twice a day, we have an 85-minute trolley tour of Albuquerque, and if you’re a Breaking Bad fan, we’re pretty accommodating — when you board the trolley (and you let us know you are a fan) we can point out 5 or 6 different locations – like Jesse’s house, the Crossroads Motel, the Railyards, Tuco’s headquarters … visitors can also see the Denny’s showcased in Seasons 4 and 5. Plus, a restaurant in East downtown called the Grove, seen in Season 5, so there’s quite a bit to see on just the city tour.
And what happens when the show ends?
Even though Breaking Bad is coming to an end, we are keeping the tour going — the Bad tour will return next April. We’re going to keep Breaking Bad’s legacy alive in Albuquerque well into the foreseeable future. As long as visitors come to see Walter White and Jesse Pinkman’s Albuquerque, we will be here to show it to them.