- Albuquerque, NM Mayor Tim Keller announced the city is scrapping its entire electric bus deal with manufacturer BYD over safety concerns, and the company must pick up the 15 buses it already delivered of the 18 contracted. The city also is holding the company responsible for taxpayer-incurred damages.
- Keller said the buses have raised safety concerns ever since the first ones were delivered in October 2017. During the latest round of testing on the 15 delivered buses, inspectors uncovered "serious and non-repairable safety issues with the buses" and the vehicles' batteries and chargers did not meet contract specifications.
- Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) service was supposed to have been fully rolled out by now but Keller delayed it several times. It is now delayed until at least August 2019, when a new fleet of 10 non-electric buses, which the city is receiving at a lower cost from a different manufacturer, will be delivered.
The BRT project has been a thorn in the side of Albuquerque's leaders for a long time, having previously endured controversy over cost, funding and construction. Keller inherited the headache when he took office in December 2017.
BYD released a blistering statement of its own, which states, in part: "BYD buses and batteries are safe... We have worked with the City of Albuquerque from day one and dispute the Mayor’s statements regarding electric bus technology, the FTA’s process and the Altoona testing protocol. While the Mayor and his team have hosted numerous high-profile press conferences undermining Albuquerque’s commitment to clean public transportation technology, we continue to stand by our product... The City stated today that they have been talking to other companies for months, undermining this project and clearly demonstrating their intention to move away from clean transportation technology."
While the city reportedly hasn't yet paid for the buses it's returning, it's navigating new financial issues because the ART project is partially paid for with Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funds. The city is working with the FTA to retool the agreement so it doesn't lose any funding, reports KOB 4. It will be interesting to see if Albuquerque is able to retain all of the original FTA money, considering significant funding the agency provides is intended for low- or no-emissions vehicles.