Fires irrelevant: Public Transport Authority


WA's Public Transport Authority won't consider recent fires on gas buses when replacing its CAT fleet

Fires irrelevant: Public Transport Authority
Fires irrelevant: Public Transport Authority
By Sean Muir | February 13, 2012

Recent fires on compressed natural gas (CNG) buses won’t be considered when choosing replacement
vehicles for Perth’s CAT fleet, according to Western Australia’s Public Transport Authority (PTA).

A Transperth bus driver was forced to order about 20 passengers off a Mercedes CNG bus on Saturday.

A WA CNG bus was also consumed by flames in December.

But a
WA
PTA spokesperson today says the recent bus fires will have no bearing on a possible decision to replace Perth’s CAT fleet with new Volvo diesel-electric hybrid buses, to be trialled in March.

"The evaluation of the Volvo hybrid bus is not affected by the recent fires in the Mercedes OC 500 CNG buses, the circumstances of which are still under investigation," the spokesperson says.

There
were 11 reported bus fires on CNG buses in WA from 2007 to 2009.

But the PTA spokesperson says fires were also not considered when deciding to trial diesel-electric buses
to possibly replace Perth's CAT fleet.

"The incidence of fires in the Mercedes OC500 CNG buses had no bearing on the decision to run a diesel-electric hybrid trial, plans for which were announced in the middle of last year, months before the recent recurrence of the fire problem," the spokesperson says.

Meanwhile, the
WA TWU has called for Perth's 550 gas buses to be taken off the road.

The union will hold talks tomorrow to discuss a possible ‘walk off’ of bus drivers who are unhappy with the CNG buses.

But
WA TWU media officer Paul Aslan today says a strike is unlikely.

"We are consulting the delegates to work out what the members want us to do and how strongly they feel about walking off," Aslan says.

WA TWU bus organiser Kevin Starr says
the PTA
in recent years has shown a preference for diesel buses.

He says once a fire starts on a gas bus
it can be harder to control than on a diesel bus.

"The thought over here is that the gas buses aren’t actually the cause of the problem, but because they have got those cylinders on the roof you have an almost limitless supply of fuel for fires," he says.

The WA Government announced
in January
it will begin a year-long trial of the Volvo B5RH hybrid bus on Perth CAT routes in March.


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