Mayor Keller, transportation officials to tour buses as ART settlement nears

Albuquerque’s Rapid Transit project is stalled, but the city still wants electric buses that would run all across the city.  

Thursday, Mayor Tim Keller toured a 40-foot electric bus built by Proterra, one of three companies the city is in talks with. 

“We are very interested in electric buses for our 40-foot fleet. This is sort of your everyday, run of the mill bus all over town,” Keller said.

City transit officials said they currently have 155 buses in the ABQ Ride fleet. 

“We phase in our bus replacement every year or every two years anyway, so we’re looking at electric buses for our general replacement efforts,” Keller said.

Keller said they plan to test all their options on some of the city’s current bus routes. Once they find the right fit, they hope to phase in electric buses starting with their north and south routes. 

“Integrating it into what we do into the routes that it makes sense, that makes us move into a more sustainable operation,” Keller said. 

These buses have nothing to do with the ART route.

Keller says the ART route is designed for a 60-foot bus, with doors on both sides and specific height requirements. He says it could be years before an electric bus that fits the ART even exists.

“There are no alternative buses that will meet the specs for the route other than clean diesel,” Keller said. 

Keller said the end goal is to have an entire fleet of electric buses, but this time they are taking a different approach. 

“I think we’ve learned that we want to take it one step at a time, not bite off more than we can chew,” Keller said. 

There is no date for when these buses would roll out, but Mayor Keller says they are committed to introducing them in the next few years. 

The Albuquerque Journal reports that according to court documents, BYD Motors is asking for more time to respond to the city of Albuquerque’s lawsuit. However, it does say that a settlement is coming. 

The company reportedly asked a federal judge cited progress in the settlement and asked the judge for additional time to respond the suit. The judge granted the motion.

In December, the city filed against the Chinese bus company, seeking damages for failure to meet contract obligations. ART service was supposed to start in 2017, however, delays regarding the buses have pushed the expected launch of the bus service to 2020.

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