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Mayor Tim Keller Provides Deep Dive Update on ART Project

Project Remains a Hardship But Steady Progress Being Made

On Wednesday, May 30, Mayor  Keller provided a deep dive update on the status of the ART Project. While steady progress has been made, obstacles remain to get the project up and running. After taking office just six months ago, Mayor Keller received a disappointing briefing on ART, learning that the project was much farther behind than anyone anticipated—funding was not locked in, engineering challenges existed, stops weren’t finished, and bus operability was an open question.

As of today, major construction is over while minor construction will continue to ensure drivers and pedestrians are safe. Minor construction projects include:

  • Installing mobility signage that makes it easier for pedestrians to cross the street
  • Striping on the road that will help drivers navigate the corridor
  • Installing video monitors and surveillance cameras to increase the level of accountability and security on the platforms
  • Ensuring the bus and traffic signal timing programming which is integral to the bus rapid transit system is on the path to be completed by the end of this summer.

“There’s no doubt the heart of our city took a major hit during ART construction,” stated Mayor Tim Keller. “The project remains a hardship, but we will have our shoulder to the wheel through 2018 to see things through.”

Congress has appropriated the money for the Smart Starts program, which is the funding needed for the project. The City’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) application for those funds has been vetted by the regional FTA office and has advanced to the FTA office in Washington, D.C. The city is awaiting a final response.

ABQ RIDE has 15 buses onsite with varying levels of operability, and the company that was originally contracted by the City, BYD, continues to address concerns raised previously about the quality of the buses. The buses still do not hold the charge that they were contracted to hold and that the system was designed for. The city is negotiating with BYD, and the company has agreed to install charging stations at each end of the ART bus lines to ensure buses can plug in between runs.

With these challenges in mind, the City will move forward working with a partial fleet of buses that could enable interim service later in the year while protecting tax payer dollars and long-term viability of transportation on Central.

In the coming months bus drivers will go through a 12-14 week training that will teach them to use the ART corridor and the bus platforms. While buses are on those training routes, the City will be working on the timing of the lights and driver education, so traffic patterns are as efficient as possible.

The Albuquerque Transit Department will be developing a full education campaign that will help keep Albuquerque drivers and pedestrians safe and ensure they are equipped with the information needed to use the new traffic lanes and transportation platforms.

“This is not the position that any of us hoped we would be in with this project,” stated Mayor Tim Keller.  “But that’s the reality of where we are, and now we need to do everything within our control to do the right thing for the people of Albuquerque.”