One week after Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller cut ties with the manufacturer of the electric buses meant for the ART line, the company is throwing all the blame on local bus drivers.
“We have about 36,000 buses deployed and we have not seen those issues. We know what the issues are and they were more driver errors misreported to the media as safety issues,” said Michael Austin, BYD Vice President.
The city of Indianapolis, Indiana is also in the process of testing BYD electric buses. In the wake of Albuquerque refusing their buses, local news stations in Indianapolis started pressing BYD, concerned about the safety of their own buses.
“The Albuquerque buses were inspected three times before they went to Albuquerque. Their own inspectors inspected the buses, they are safe,” said Austin to local station WRTV.
Mayor Tim Keller saw that interview and says nothing Austin said is true.
“I think it’s unfortunate, you know? It’s very unprofessional I think in general to go after bus drivers,” said Keller.
Keller says there is no way that the safety concerns the buses in Albuquerque were displaying are driver related.
“The battery safety issue has nothing to do with drivers, the brake safety issues have to do with air compression happening in different axles so that has nothing to do with drivers,” said Keller.
Keller points out this isn’t the first major ‘fail’ BYD has had with a city, citing an LA Times article showing BYD buses had to be pulled off the streets in Los Angeles and Columbia, Missouri because of frequent breakdowns, brake, and battery issues.
“I think what the discussion should be about here is that Albuquerque is in a valley. So just like a battery driven golf cart, if you’re driving up the valley it will drain the battery faster and if you’re driving down, it’s going to put more pressure on the brakes. Unfortunately, BYD didn’t take that into consideration at all,” said Keller.
The mayor believes BYD bashing Albuquerque bus drivers is just a desperate attempt to save their reputation.
“This has been a trend for them, and look…I think they are worried about their reputation and I think they should be,” said Keller.
Albuquerque is still considering suing BYD for damages. At this point, the project is not expected to be up and running for at least another 18 months.
- Company behind ART buses responds to Mayor Keller pulling the plug
- Mayor on ART project: “We are putting BYD on legal notice”