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Mayor Tim Keller: BYD Will be Held Accountable in Court

Lawsuit against Build Your Dreams has been filed.

December 7, 2018

Today, Mayor Tim Keller announced that the City of Albuquerque filed a lawsuit against Build Your Dreams for failure to meet contractual obligations and delivering unsafe buses to the City of Albuquerque. The lawsuit comes after the City encountered numerous problems since the first few buses were delivered behind schedule last October. Today, the City also released numerous reports detailing the challenges with the BYD buses.

“We’ve exhausted our options with BYD. We can’t wait on broken promises and missed deadlines anymore and now it’s our responsibility to hold them accountable,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “We do not take this decision lightly – now it is our responsibility to ensure a clean break with BYD so the City can move on. Through the legal process, we will professionally dissolve this relationship.”

For a year, the City has tried working with BYD but the company continued to fail to meet requirements set in the contract with the City including delays in the delivery of the buses, incomplete certification testing at the Altoona site, and batteries only running at 177 miles on a single charge even though the contract requires 275 miles on a charge. Despite BYD’s recent PR attempts to deflect from these facts, and their desire to silence these concerns, the city made every effort to work with the company, even offering BYD the chance to avoid court through mediation.

The City released an independent report from the Center for Transportation and the Environment, a non-profit organization that focuses heavily on the electric bus and clean energy technology. CTE modeled the ART Route to test the buses and simulate various conditions that mirror real service in the corridor – running the doors, heat, HVAC and all other bus systems, and also loading weight onto the buses to simulate buses with passengers. 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. The full CTE report is available here.

“As we work to move Albuquerque towards an environmentally sustainable future, it would have been a great step to have electric buses on the route, that’s one of the reasons we tried to make it work with BYD for a year,” said Mayor Keller. “Unfortunately, the technology they promised simply isn’t ready for this route. Our aim is to continue to eventually move all of our fleet vehicles to more sustainable models as the technology evolves. In the meantime, we are going to have to use more traditional clean fuel buses to get this project moving.”

Over the past year, Mayor Keller and the City of Albuquerque tried to work with BYD in efforts to make the ART corridor functional, including installing charging stations at either end of the ART line. However, when the City began driver training with the buses along the corridor in July, major safety issues came to light, including doors opening when they shouldn’t as displayed in this video.

“The contract, and FTA regulations, requires that we have buses that passed the proper tests at Altoona, PA, and these buses have not been certified,” said Lawrence Rael, City of Albuquerque Chief Operating Officer. “It’s clear that the buses are not safe, and we are not going to place residents at risk. Furthermore, our city deserves services from partners who hold up their end of the deal – BYD has not.”

Our mechanics reviewed each of the buses for functionality and safety. Their reports show that each bus had safety issues including brake pressure issues, multiple door issues, cracked or missing welds that compromise the integrity of the buses, malfunctioning bridge plates for wheelchair accessibility, and exposed high voltage cables that create a risk of electrical fires. The preliminary inspections done by our mechanics are available here.

Earlier this week, the City announced it was procuring 10 new buses from New Flyer that can be used interchangeably on the ART corridor and other routes. Ordering these buses may enable the City to eventually start ART service.

For more information about the challenges other cities are having with BYD buses, read the following article from the Los Angeles Times: Stalls, stops, and breakdowns: Problems plague push for electric buses