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IndyGo shows off electric bus for Red Line

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — IndyGo on Thursday showed off one of the new electric buses it plans to run on the Red Line, built by a company that has faced criticism of its buses in another city. 

Micheal Austin , vice president of Build Your Dreams (BYD), joined IndyGo leaders Thursday to give members of the press tours of the quiet, electric bus that features bike racks, security cameras and USB outlets.

Last March, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller held a different kind of show-and-tell to point out problems the city had with its own BYD-made buses. 

“The cracks that are appearing in the back of these buses, you can see right here,” Keller said. “These are brand new buses. They should not have cracks in the frames.” 

A press release from Keller’s office earlier this year said the city planned to send seven buses back, stating that the city detected axle issues and leaking on their BYD buses. City leaders said the buses did not run on the mileage per battery charge that BYD promised.

“We’re working with Albuquerque to solve some of their issues,” Austin said Thursday. 

Austin said BYD buses are improving and the company is offering IndyGo a 12-year battery warranty with full battery replacements if needed. 

“If there are problems with the new technology, which you can always anticipate there will be some sort of issues that you need to resolve, you work with your partners and you resolve it,” Austin said.

IndyGo spokesperson Bryan Luellen said the buses cost about $1 million each. He said about 80 percent of the $96 million Red Line project is funded by federal grants. 

When asked whether IndyGo is concerned they will run into the same problems as Albuquerque, Luellen said, “With any new technology, we expect that there is going to be a break-in period.” 

“That’s why we have this first pilot bus so early ahead of the opening of the line,” Luellen said.

The Red Line will open in 2019; IndyGo plans to use this first bus to train drivers. 

Luellen said IndyGo sent team members to BYD’s facilities to inspect the “build of the bus.” 

They are working with a contractor to verify specifications. 

“We are confident we have a good partner, and we are confident we have the resources and the capability to pull this off,” Luellen said. 

An Los Angeles Times investigation last May found BYD buses stalled on hills and required service calls more frequently than older buses. 

Austin said most of the reports he had read about the bus issues are “salacious or false.” He said BYD buses have no problems climbing hills and they can do so better than diesel or natural gas buses.