ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Five days into the start of service, one Albuquerque Rapid Transit system bus is off the street after colliding with a vehicle on West Central on Wednesday afternoon.
City spokeswoman Alicia Manzano said the driver of a pickup truck made an illegal left turn and crashed into the bus as it headed east on Central, near 52nd.
The truck driver was taken to a hospital to get “checked out” but there were no other injuries reported, she said. The passengers onboard the bus were able to catch another bus soon after.
“We are just very grateful that everyone was OK and nobody was significantly injured,” Manzano said. She said the crash will be investigated and those involved will be interviewed.
The $133 million ART project – a bus system that runs on the Central Avenue corridor from Unser to Tramway, and north to Uptown – kicked off last Saturday after five years of construction, delays, controversy and lawsuits.
Wednesday’s crash is the first since operation began and sidelined one of the 20 turquoise buses used for the route.
Manzano said the pickup truck driver turned against a red light and hit the ART bus twice, leaving “significant damage” to the window and door.
Manzano couldn’t give an estimate as to how much the repairs will cost, but she said ART will forge ahead.
“Service is not impacted; we just put another bus into the corridor and the buses are moving as usual,” she said.
Manzano took the opportunity to urge drivers to stay out of the designated ART lanes.
“We know it’s going to take some time to get used to this new traffic process, but please be careful,” she said.
The Albuquerque Transit Department has warned that vehicles parked in ART lanes can be fined up to $80 starting in January and those who cross the lanes or make illegal left turns could be fined up to $160.
The front right corner of the bus was smashed in and the windows were shattered with bits of glass on the ground beneath. The sign above the driver’s window read “to garage” in giant letters.
Soon after, a red and orange tow truck pulled up and hauled the bus away.