City, state to investigate Albuquerque Rapid Transit


The city of Albuquerque and state of New Mexico this week announced separate investigations into the city’s controversial and troubled Albuquerque Rapid Transit bus system.

The Albuquerque Journal reported late Wednesday the city’s inspector general recently began a review of processes, funding and procedures with in the project.

KOB-TV in Albuquerque reported Thursday the state’s auditor also would investigate ART.

ART has been beset by poorly designed stations, problems with its electric buses, construction that hampered businesses along nine miles of Central Avenue (Route 66) and a $75 million federal grant that still hasn’t arrived more than a year after its announcement.

New mayor Tim Keller last month called the project “a bit of a lemon” and said the problems may take a year or more to fix.

Albuquerque inspector general David Harper is conducting a city review that initially focused on funding:

After beginning the review in November, Harper said he expanded its scope to include quality issues with the ART buses, whether bus maker BYD complied with the Buy America Act and possible ADA compliance issues.

Harper said he expects to complete the review in four to six weeks, after which a public report will be issued.

He also plans on initiating a “low level” investigation of a city Transit Department employee involved in the ART project involved in possible misconduct.

Meanwhile, state auditor Wayne Johnson said he would bring in a third-party accounting firm to probe ART.

“I can’t really tell you how many times somebody has come up to me on the street or in a grocery store somewhere and said, ‘You need to look at ART,” Johnson said.

The state auditor’s office is still determining the scope of its investigation. Johnson said his office plans to start its investigation in the coming weeks.

The Journal and the city were careful to call the inspector general’s inquiry a “review,” not an investigation. This is a distinction without a difference.

At best, the probe likely will uncover incompetence or shoddy design — things that already are well-documented. At worst, it will find corruption that occurred on former mayor Richard Berry’s watch.

Berry, who was ART’s biggest champion, said a nicer and more efficient rapid-transit system was needed to draw high-tech companies and new millennial residents to Albuquerque.

(Artist’s rendering of an Albuquerque Rapid Transit station)

4 thoughts on “City, state to investigate Albuquerque Rapid Transit

  1. As a resident of the Albuquerque area and a frequent visitor to the Central Avenue area, I join others who are appalled at the shoddy workmanship of this project that former Mayor Berry shoved down the throats of the City taxpayers. My own personal feeling is that the $75 million “promised” by the Federal Government is a figment of Berry’s vivid imagination and that the money will never be forthcoming, as I can find no evidence that it was ever included in a budget. Berry and his minions need to pay the price – in front of a federal judge – and made to pay the consequences and to make payments toward that $75 million for the rest of their lives. This project led to the death of a friend of mine because of the loss of his business, and there is no recourse for him!

  2. This project was a disaster in the making coming out of the chute. Even if completed, it’s hard to imagine any demand for such a service. Albuquerque has so many other problems to deal with, this was clearly a “lipstick on a pig” exercise from the beginning.

  3. The UK has the “legacy” of ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair. Albuquerque has the “legacy” of ex-Mayor Richard Berry. As for there being a Buy American Act (1933) and a Buy America Act (1983), I thought it was now illegal to discriminate in any way in the USA today. And what does the ungrammatical Buy America Act mean in American English? In British English it is meaningless. Who would want to buy America? Russia? After all, America bought Alaska from Russia. Has Putin put in a bid?

  4. Ron, do not be so nice. It will be a forensic audit…and RJ Berry, City Council, JoanienGriffin, Dayna Crawford, Bruce Rizzeri, Michael Riordan and others will be Investigated, and not with coffee and cake.

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