The Albuquerque Rapid Transit project could be up and running, but only partially, this fall. 

The mayor gave another ART update Wednesday, explaining the ongoing problem with the buses the previous administration chose for the project. 

The mayor equated the ART situation to a divorce with kids. Those kids being the buses, and how the city is working with the bus company to have a sort of “custody agreement” to keep only some of the buses we already have. 

“We ran a certain amount of buses for River of Lights. Contractually, whether we like it or not, the fact that those buses were used probably constitutes accepting them. So we’re probably stuck with those buses,” Mayor Keller said. 

The big issues with ART have been the electric buses. They’re from the California company “Build Your Dreams” (BYD) and have not measured up to what the city needs in terms of battery life. 

So instead of ditching ART altogether or trying to stick it out with BYD, the city is going with this “divorce” option. 

The city will then put out a bid for another bus company to fill in the missing buses, which have to be very specific to the ART platforms. 

Ultimately, there would be a mixed ART fleet that the mayor hopes would be fully operational this winter — a year behind schedule. 

“But this third path represents the best option for getting some sort of interim service running sometime soon. Perhaps around the fall, protecting taxpayers in the long-term viability of transportation on Central,” the mayor said. 

As for the federal funding for the ART, Mayor Keller says the Regional Federal Transit Administration Office has approved the application, and it’s now in Washington.

It could still be denied. Although there’s some hope, because the feds have already approved funding for a similar project in Indianapolis, which hasn’t even started yet. 

There’s at least one guarantee. Bus drivers will begin training on the ART routes starting midsummer, and when that starts you can expect to see the city’s campaign to inform drivers on how to navigate ART with the buses up and running. 

The city says it’s also still working on the timing of lights, more signage for pedestrian crossings and installing cameras at the ART platforms that will be connected to the city’s Real Time Crime Center.