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New Mayor Says ART Project Is A Lemon

Victor Onimole / KUNM
ART construction ended in December, but the buses aren't running yet.

Construction workers tore up Albuquerque’s main avenue for well over a year installing ART, or Albuquerque Rapid Transit. And even though the new stations light up at night, the system isn’t working. The city’s new mayor said at a news conference on Tuesday, Jan. 9, that ART has a ways to go before it’s operational. 

The problems are much worse than anyone believed, Mayor Tim Keller said, and there are serious flaws. Like the design of the dedicated lanes, the timing of lights and traffic flow.

Plus, Keller said, the buses don’t line up with the stations correctly: Bus mirrors collide with the station canopies, and a gap is created between the platforms and the buses, which means ART is not yet accessible or ADA compliant, he said.  "So I said for the last nine months, that there may be some serious design issues, some implementation challenges for this project," he said. "And unfortunately, we’re finding that that is true to a larger extent than the public was made aware. In short, now that we’ve reviewed these problems, this project is a bit of a lemon."

The city ordered 18 electric buses that were due in October, and so far, has only received nine of them. When city workers plugged one in to charge it, the whole charging system shorted out, according to Lawrence Rael, the city’s chief operating officer.

Keller says there is no predictable timeline for when ART will be up and running but his administration is committed to making it work. 

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.
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