WA writ ongoing

After three bus fires, the Public Transport Authority of WA are still negotiating terms with the manufacturer

WA writ ongoing
WA writ ongoing

By Amie Hickland | November 12, 2013

Three bus fires and more than $1.4 million later, the Public Transport Authority of Western Australia are still in negotiation with the manufacturer over who’s responsible for what.

Three Mercedes OC500 CNG buses caught fire in late 2012 and early 2013 in the state, according to the latest Annual Report 2012-13.

Investigations and reviews have been carried out as a result of the incidents and included experts from Mercedes Benz, local fire investigation specialists and engineering consultants from Australia and overseas.

Improvements and modifications were made on all the gas buses or they were in field trials by June 30.

The authority lodged a Supreme Court writ against Mercedes-Benz Australia-Pacific Pty Ltd, Volgren Australia Pty Ltd and EvoBus GMBH in relation to the fleet after the incidents.

The writ says the buses, supplied by Mercedes under a 1999 agreement, failed to meet design, longevity, suitability for purpose, and safety requirements.

The PTA is claiming breach of contract by Mercedes-Benz, negligence by all three defendants, negligent mis-statement and misleading and deceptive conduct by Mercedes-Benz and EvoBus and, in the case of EvoBus, is also seeking to enforce the guarantee EvoBus has provided of Mercedes-Benz’s obligations.

Managing Director Mark Burgess says the organisation is continuing negotiations with the company over the modifications, and the writ is a safeguard against any possible expiry of limitation periods within which claims may be initiated.

"We have proposed various modifications to the buses to overcome or minimise the various concerns and we are seeking to reach agreement with Mercedes on the allocation of cost and responsibility for these modifications."

The writ has not yet been served.

A PTA spokesperson says the buses are worth around $500,000 each brand new, and the fire suppression equipment cost about $1.4 million.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to receive the ABC e-newsletter, digital magazine and other offers we choose to share with you straight to your inbox

You can also follow our updates by liking us on Facebook