Madrid buses are blazing nuisance

MADRID’S municipal transportation company, EMT, will be recruiting 220 new maintenance workers in the next year or so to help combat the worrying problem of fires breaking out on its bus fleet.

So far this year, nine EMT vehicles have burst into flames, two of these incidents happening last week.

“The hiring of these specialists is the first serious measure we’ve seen,” said Javier Herranz, from the UGT labour union. “But it is also essential for them to speed up the purchase of new buses.”

Under its current purchasing plan, the company, owned by Madrid City Hall, is set to reduce the average age of its fleet from the current 8.3 years to 6.6 years.

EMT is also set to incorporate automatic extinguishers in the whole fleet because now, just nine buses carry them.

An EMT spokesperson said that such blazes were nothing new. “They used to happen in the 1960s and the 1990s – and they’re happening now.”

In 2012, Madrid City Hall, then governed by the conservative Popular Party, suspended the renovation of new vehicles until 2016.

Since then, 45 buses have caught fire, an average of nine per year. And this year has already seen the same number of bus fires.

The last two incidents took place barely 48 hours apart last week: the first, on the Monday, on Cardenal Herrera Oria avenue, was a 14-year-old vehicle.

Then, on the Thursday morning, another bus, 12 years old, caught fire on Velázquez street.  Neither bus was damaged,and there was no loss of passengers’ property.

EMT has pointed out that the ratio of fires by year and fleet is 0.47%, a figure it says is similar to other transport companies.

But both the public company and unions agree that age is a factor, and that the incidents are happening with vehicles aged 10 years and over.

The most common causes of fires are short circuits and problems with alternators or catalytic converters.

“The responsibility lies with whoever increased the useful life of the vehicles and cut investment,” said City Hall Mobility Councillor Inés Sabanés.

Herranz, the UGT union representative added: “It’s true that there is an inherited problem here. The PP left things in a disastrous state, but Ahora Madrid, the current party in power, has had two years to change things.”

Herranz also pointed out that the EMT was working with very old vehicles, which are subject to high temperatures, adding: “They heat up, and, as they give off oil and fuel, they end up catching fire.”

In his opinion, the real number of such incidents is triple the official numbers supplied by EMT. “Only the truly scandalous cases come to light,” he said.

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Posted by on Aug 3 2017. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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