Albuquerque announced Friday it was suing the BYD company over its faulty electrical buses made for the city’s troubled Albuquerque Rapid Transit line.
Mayor Tim Keller announced the legal action after forcing the California-based company to take back the buses.
According to the Albuquerque Journal:
Keller said the city reached out to BYD in an attempt to settle the conflict through mediation, but the mayor said BYD “didn’t even call us back.”
The lawsuit filed against California-based BYD Motors Inc. in 2nd Judicial District Court in Albuquerque claims breach of contract, breach of warranty, fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation and violations of the state’s Unfair Practices Act.
“We would expect that (BYD) will file their own claims, but we’re confident in the facts that are before us and we will aggressively defend the city,” City Attorney Esteban Aguilar Jr. said. […]
“For a city of our size, the pain that we went through and the trauma that Route 66 has gone through to put this in, was that worth being the first city to have these fancy electric buses?” Keller said. “I don’t think so.”
BYD disputed the claims in the lawsuit, but an independent report by the Center for Transportation and the Environment added ammunition to Albuquerque’s case:
“CTE’s simulations found that the operational plan developed for ART – running the electric buses during the day, then recharging them overnight in preparation for the next day – could not be achieved by the buses BYD delivered to Albuquerque,” a city news release sent Friday morning stated.
Also, BYD buses were faulted for bad braking systems, door defects, structural cracks, wiring problems and lack of undercarriage protection. A full list of the company’s bus problems are here.
A city official said about $6 million in ART funding was contingent on the city using electric buses. But since the city canceled the BYD contract and hired competitor New Flyer to supply diesel buses that cost less, the savings might be enough to cover the shortfall.
The previous mayor, Richard Berry, shepherded the $135 million ART project on nine miles of Central Avenue (aka Route 66) through a divided city council, saying the bus transit system was needed to attract new millennial residents and more high-tech companies to Albuquerque.
Many Route 66 businesses saw steep declines in revenue during about 18 months of construction, and several lawsuits tried to stop the project.
The city’s inspector general in June criticized the city for using general-obligation bonds on the project, proceeding with ART without a federal grant agreement in place (it finally was officially secured more than a year after being announced), awarding contracts to untested companies, and appearances of bias.
(Screen-capture image from video of the ART logo at one of the bus stops in Albuquerque)