BYD electric bus

Long Beach Transit runs into delays with electric buses

Long Beach Transit (CA) is again running into problems with its procurement of 10 all-electric buses from BYD. Last March, the agency briefly delayed awarding the $12.1 million contract after losing bidder Proterra protested the decision.

Now the buses themselves are the problem. On Monday staff briefed the LBT board of directors about two new roadblocks. First, chief traffic engineer David Roseman expressed concern over the weight of the vehicles and the additional wear and tear on the city’s streets. This issue was not new to the board, however. “BYD did provide the vehicle weight before the contract was signed,” said LBT spokesperson Dana Pynn. “The weight of these particular buses is not a new subject and has been discussed throughout the entire process, including during the board workshops held prior to the board’s approval of the contract.”

Rolando Cruz, executive director and vice president of maintenance and facilities, next briefed the board about BYD’s problems at the federal Altoona testing facility. Cruz said that the test vehicle completed six of the 17 required tasks in mid-July before cracks began to show above the rear door.  BYD pulled the bus from further testing and said that the cracks resulted from poor welding and not from a design flaw.  The bus was manufactured in China, not the California facility where LBT’s buses will be assembled.

BYD asserts that the bus did not fail Altoona testing. “As is common at Altoona, after successfully completing the first one-fourth to a third of the testing, we pulled the bus to our facility to complete a thorough evaluation,” said BYD America vice president Michael Austin. “There were no major design flaws discovered. However, there were some minor findings that we wanted to evaluate and review.”

After BYD withdrew its bus from Altoona, LBT asked BYD to submit the U.S.-built buses for Altoona testing instead and moved the anticipated completion date to January 2015 — a seven-month delay — to accommodate the change.  “None of the minor findings have caused BYD to discontinue our testing of this China-built bus,” Austin said. “However, Long Beach would like to gain equal confidence in the buses as manufactured from our brand-new Lancaster facility.”

To address these concerns the board requested an ad hoc committee to oversee the project. Link to full story in Long Beach Post.

Photo source: BYD

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