ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The problems facing the city’s all-electric public transit project are worse than previously thought, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said, and require the city to address the issues before the system becomes operational.
While the previous administration had promised that the Albuquerque Rapid Transit system would be completed before they left office, the new mayor said he couldn’t speculate on when the project would be ready.
“In reality, it would be unrealistic to give a firm completion date,” Keller said. “There have been too many issues that we’ve found, too many issues to tackle and too many players and contractors involved at this point to be able to give a definitive date, and at the end of the day there have already been too many broken promises with this project.”
Among the problems outlined at a news conference Tuesday, several center on the electric buses. The city ordered 20 buses that were expected to be delivered in October, but only nine have been received, said Lawrence Rael, the city’s chief operating officer.
“Out of the nine buses that we’ve received, we have found issues associated with those buses — everything from mechanical failures to some inconsistencies in how the buses are put together,” Rael said.
The city also had troubled charging the buses and found their range to be less than promised, Rael said.
The buses were built by the California-based Build Your Dreams company. Keller and Rael noted that the company will not receive the $22.9 million payment until the contractual obligations are met.
Many of the other project problems deal with the construction and design of the bus stops. At the Washington and Central stop, the platform was built too close to the intersection causing a bus to enter two lanes of traffic to access it, Rael said.
Officials also found uneven platforms and inconsistent heights.
“In short, now that we’ve reviewed these problems this project is bit of a lemon,” Keller said.
The city expected to receive $75 million in funding from the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Program to help pay for the $135 million project but that funding has not been secured yet. Keller said he plans to meet with federal officials soon.