ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Former Mayor Richard Berry put a lot of work into the ART project and it’s signature Route 66 look, but that’s now been replaced with an entirely new look for the city’s new ART buses.
Current Mayor Tim Keller unveiled the new look turquoise-blue buses Wednesday at a news conference, announcing the city’s acceptance the first “demo bus” for the delayed service.
“This bus is turquoise, and it’s designed to match the sky!” Keller exclaimed at Wednesday’s event.
The so-called “demo bus” is a milestone for the city, which is nearly two-years behind on the start of service, mainly due to problems with original 60-foot all-electric buses the city planned to use.
In early 2018, Mayor Tim Keller announced a series of problems with those all-electric buses, which eventually lead the city returning the fleet to the manufacturer, BYD.
By December 2018, the city announced a new purchase agreement with bus manufacturer New Flyer. That company is making at least ten “clean-diesel” 60-foot buses for the ART route.
With the city having received its first bus from New Flyer, it’s also planning a far different look than the one Mayor Berry initially outlined.
In 2017, Berry unveiled the retro-esque 60-foot buses that carried a grey color-scheme meant to look like an AirStream trailer. The buses also had checkerboard patterns on the exterior, a neon-red lighting stripe, and red and grey seats that were meant to look like diners of the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s.
“We’ve tried to honor the past and the traditions of Route 66 with this bus, while looking towards the future,” said Berry in an August 2017 news conference. “You can see the nod towards diner design.”
But as Keller unveiled Wednesday, the latest fleet of buses will carry a far different look with a bright blue color scheme and some cartoon-like drawings on the exterior.
“Complete with roadrunner, cactus, you can see Wile E. Coyote there as well,” Keller said, pointing to a coyote on the design. “Some other Yucca, native vegetation.”
KRQE News 13 asked a few people their opinions of the design Wednesday.
Some say the old design was better.
“The other ones had a different flavor, like they were unique,” said Sarah, speaking of the Berry-era grey buses.
“I like the old one better because it looked more like a café,” said Josalyn.
Others appreciated the new design.
“It definitely catches your eye more,” a woman told KRQE News 13.
“It you know speaks to… it’s a bus from this town,” another man told KRQE News 13.
The city released two of possibly six different designs Tuesday. The two unveiled thus far look almost exactly the same, with one design differentiating itself with the addition of two hot air balloons.
Mayor Keller now says service could start by the end of 2019.