Albuquerque’s long-awaited rapid transit project, which was originally set to launch last month, now has “no operational date,” announced Mayor Tim Keller, due largely to several issues with the City’s fleet of Build Your Dreams (BYD) battery-electric buses.
Citing significant delays in the delivery of BYD’s buses, in addition to a wide range of workmanship and safety concerns, Mayor Keller hinted that the City may spend up to a year addressing the many setbacks identified. “In short, now that we’ve reviewed these problems, this project is a bit of a lemon,” said the mayor. “What we’ve found is very troubling,” he added.
The City, which procured a total of 18 zero-emission buses from the Chinese manufacturer in 2016, has yet to receive the entirety of its order. As of earlier this month, BYD had failed to deliver half of Albuquerque’s fleet. To add insult to injury, roughly 24 assembly and operational issues have been identified in each of the nine buses that have been delivered.
In addition to issues charging and inconsistencies in the buses’ construction, Mayor Kelly expressed concerns with the range of BYD’s new vehicles. While the Chinese company claims its 60-foot articulated model can travel a total of 275 miles on a single charge, Albuquerque officials claim each bus can make it only about 200 miles.
Other cities and transit agencies, particularly given that BYD’s 60-foot articulated vehicle remains largely unproven, have expressed concerns similar to those of Albuquerque officials. “We’re having a whole variety of issues with our buses. We use them, but I think four of the five were down three days last week,” said Richard DeRock, the general manager of Wenatchee, Washington’s Link Transit. Poor workmanship also delayed the delivery of his agency’s new buses: “They were almost a year late on delivery because the buses couldn’t get through the plant. Our in-plant inspector would not release them. There were serious quality issues,” DeRock noted.
Despite the setbacks, Mayor Keller remains dedicated to the project and hopes to work toward a speedy resolution of the issues identified. Albuquerque and his administration, he said, are “in it for the long haul.”