The city of Albuquerque is off the hook for paying more than $20 million to the maker of the flawed buses for its rapid transit route.
A year and a half since electric ART buses were supposed to start rolling on Central Avenue, federal court records show China-based electric bus company BYD and the city of Albuquerque have reached a settlement.
“The city and BYD are completely freed of the contract. There are no damages paid to either side,” Albuquerque’s outside counsel, Robert Desiderio, said.
“I’d say it’s a victory. I know this has been an ongoing struggle for this project,” Mali Snyder of Albuquerque said.
“I think it’s a loss,” Pamela Platero of Albuquerque added. “I think a lot of people were looking forward to ART, looking forward to commuting around the city.”
After sending the buses back to BYD’s California plant late last year, Mayor Tim Keller announced the city would be taking the company to court for damages for breach of contract.
“We actually offered them the opportunity to go to mediation and they didn’t even call us back,” Keller said in December.
The 700-page complaint lists several mechanical issues, including problems with the battery charge, malfunctioning brakes, and doors flying open on their own, all discovered during driver training back in September.
Court records show BYD never responded to the complaint but told News 13 in recent months that the claims were false and misleading.
In a joint statement Friday, the city and BYD said they’d no longer criticize each other and wished each other future success.
While the transit department said the ART platforms will be sitting empty for awhile longer, the city’s lawyers consider this settlement a win because Albuquerque won’t have to pay nearly $23 million for 20 electric buses it won’t be using; and because any previous tension with BYD is over.
“They were thinking of pursuing claims against the city and that’s all over,” Desiderio added.
The city said the first of the 20 diesel-powered buses from company New Flyer should arrive in Albuquerque in the next few weeks.
They’re hoping for a launch date sometime at the beginning of 2020.
On Friday, BYD said it doesn’t plan to take legal action against the city, though they do still dispute the allegations that their buses are faulty.
City of Albuquerque and BYD joint statement below:
BYD and the City have reached a settlement that resolves litigation, allowing the parties to move forward at no additional cost. Since the contract was terminated, both BYD and the City have engaged in good faith dialogue to reach this resolution. Although the parties made public statements in defense of their respective positions during the dispute, they are now committed to moving forward and wish each other success.
The City supports BYD’s pursuit of its mission to expand zero-emission public transportation with the next generation of high-quality electric buses. BYD supports the City’s commitment to the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project and wishes the City best of luck on its completion and successful operation.