Friday, July 08, 2016

Bus Fire Extinguished But Smoke Remains

CCCPT buses parked at the main downtown stop.


(C) 2016 Luke T. Bush

The bus stalls.  The driver gets out to determine the problem. He opens up the engine compartment and -- Boom! -- fireball.

That's the story.  But are any of the details true?  For years I've heard all sorts of stories about problems with the Clinton County Public Transportation (CCPT) bus system.  Getting to the truth is a real problem especially when a source aware of the details refuses to go on record.

Then again such reluctance is understandable in certain situations.  For example an employee is threatened with job termination if he reveals any company information to outsiders.  And without a union that employee's choices are limited.  So much for free speech.

The trouble with hazy stories is unsubstantiated rumor can be mixed in with fact.

More details heard regarding the recent bus fire story: The incident occurred Wednesday evening (7/6/16) when the driver was returning on a country road to the depot with the South City bus.  Flames extensively damaged  the front part of the vehicle: it is out of service.  No one was injured.  NYSDOT (NY State Dept. of Transportation) will investigate.  Drivers have been instructed to quickly evacuate passengers from a burning bus due to the great danger with the vehicle's design. The policy is get away from the bus, don't try to put out the fire, let it burn.  Call 911 for help.  

Another detail: the bus that burned had racked up 300,000 or more miles.

I emailed the county planning technician who oversees the bus system but so far no reply evaluating the veracity of any of the details.

I did get an email response from Legislator Rob Timmons, Area 7, Chairman of the Clinton County Public Transportation Committee.  He verified there was a fire.

Rob Timmons added:  "I don't know if the number of miles it had on it had anything to with it. Brand new or newer vehicles have burned. We are waiting to see what the investigators find out with it. No injuries were reported at the time of the call in to 911, which is a wonderful thing. The bus is a total loss,  but can be replaced."

There are other details I would like to check out: the fire was due to electrical problems plaguing some of the buses; the fire could have been prevented with proper maintenance; the company that previously operated the same buses didn't keep up with maintenance before the new contractor, Macdonald Transit Associates Inc., took over.

Until the smoke lifts and details are clear I'm going to be wary when riding a CCPT vehicle.

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