ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque city councilors questioned the city’s new chief operating officer on how the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project ended up where it is and where to go from here during Wednesday evening’s regular meeting.
The project, called “a bit of a lemon” by Mayor Tim Keller earlier this month, has been plagued by a variety of issues involving everything from the buses to the platforms located in the middle of Central Avenue.
“At the end of the day, the real question became, ‘Can the bus company do the work?'” said Councilor Pat Davis, whose staff is reviewing the project.
Davis said Build Your Dreams, the bus company selected to provide the 60-foot electric buses for the route, cost $4 million more than the other company that was considered.
He did not mention the name of the other company, but wondered if it would be capable of fulfilling the requirements of the request for proposal should BYD not ultimately deliver on the contract.
The company has provided around half of the 20 buses to the city, but the contract stipulated all were to be delivered by Oct. 4. In addition, the charge on the buses was supposed to last for 275 miles, but in reality is only good for 200 miles.
Davis said that was clear in BYD’s response to the RFP and that BYD stated additional charging stations would be needed to reach 275.
Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Rael said he plans on meeting with BYD’s executive team today to determine a path forward, which may include adding the additional charging stations.
He said if BYD can’t meet the terms of the contract, “other options” will be examined.
Councilor Isaac Benton, an architect, said that a certain number of problems are to be expected with any project.
“Any project of this magnitude is going to have a fairly lengthy, what in the industry is called a ‘punch list’ period,” Benton said, referring to issues that may arise near or at the end of a project. “This may go beyond that, very well, but at the same time anything of this magnitude is going to have numerous things to shake out.”