New electric bus fleet launched last month
As we said yesterday, it would be prudent to suspend the use of electric buses in York until the cause of yesterdays vehicle fire had been established.
Safety must come first and we were concerned that comments from the York Council (which lets the contract for the Park and Ride services on which the buses are used) and local bus managers implied yesterday that the buses would continue in use.
In petrol powered engines, fires were not uncommon. Fires are comparatively rare in newer vehicles and, those that do occur, can usually be traced to faulty electrical components.
New technology – like that deployed in the battery powered bus fleet – is another matter. The technology is in its infancy and , although inherently safer than the internal combustion alternative, deployment needs to be cautious.
A quick investigation should reveal the cause of the fire.
If, for example, it turns out that a spanner was left by maintenance staff in the engine compartment, and this led to the short circuit which caused the fire, then that would be one thing. A relatively easy fix (count the spanners!) and get the buses back on the road!
If a component has been incorrectly fitted then again the remedy is obvious.
Only if faulty components or – heaven forbid – a design flaw is revealed would an extensive and debilitating delay become inevitable.
We are after all just going through the first sustained period of warm weather since the large scale introduction of the buses in the City and who knows whether that might be factor?
So full marks to First for adopting a cautious approach, albeit a little late in the day.
They, and the Council, now face the headache of back-filling the gaps in the Park and Ride fleet.
Hopefully the York Council will now be open and transparent about the incident and the action that is being taken.
UPDATE: First say that the vehicle manufacturers are undertaking precautionary checks on the fleet. Park and Ride services are unaffected.