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FTA forced Long Beach, Calif., to cancel its bus contract with BYD

If you're wondering why the FTA hasn't yet approved Albuquerque's now infamous ART project, and the $75 million to go with it, here's a possible clue.

In December, 2017, the Federal Transit Administration forced the city of Long Beach, Calif., to cancel its bus contract with Chinese bus company, BYD. Albuquerque has 18 buses on order from the company, but has gotten only nine so far, and all of those buses have mechanical and structural issues.

And BYD has had a troubled history since it opened its U.S. operation in Los Angels i n October of 2011.

And here's an excerpt from the story:

“When the dust finally settled on the minimum wage debacle, the company found itself still in possession of its two key contracts: Long Beach Transit and LA Metro. Although the road ahead appeared clear, in December the Federal Transit Administration blocked Long Beach Transit from using a federal grant to purchase BYD buses.

“The FTA said that at the time of bidding in 2013, BYD was not yet in compliance with the FTA’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise policy. This requires bidders on federally funded contracts to set percentage goals for the amount of business they will likely conduct with companies owned by minorities and women.

“In response to the FTA’s decision to block funding, BYD and Long Beach Transit were forced to cancel the 10-bus contract last week and put it up for re-bidding. BYD intends to participate in the new round of bidding, but given the controversy over the past year, that process may put Proterra in a strong position to take over.”

On Tuesday, Mayor Tim Keller and the city's Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Rael detailed several problems with the nine electric, articulated buses that BYD has delivered to the city so far.

Those problems include battery chargers that don't work and can't be certified to meet U.S. standards, buses that can't be certified to met federal standards, wheel chair restraints in different areas on each bus, axles that are leaking oil and battery cages that are cracking.

The city is supposed to pay BYD $22 million for the 18 buses. But Rael said the city won't pay the company until all of the buses are delivered and certified.

Based on BYD's history, and the FTA's recent action in Long Beach, that might never happen.

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