Sunday, January 22, 2012

The pressure is off!

It has been announced in a press conference this afternoon (Sunday 22/01/2012) that the gas bus explosion at Virginia bus depot was caused by a "rogue" gas cylinder. 33 other buses with the same batch of gas tank will be taken out of service. The rest of the compressed natural gas (CNG) buses will be back in operation, but with reduced gas pressure. BrizCommuter hopes that the decision was based on sound safety advice, and not a negative publicity avoidance tactic ahead of state and council elections.

The return of CNG buses takes the pressure off Brisbane's public transport, which was originally heading for chaos if 500+ CNG buses were unavailable. Even with 33 buses still unavailable, it has been reported that Brisbane Transport bus services will be back to normal on Monday 23/01/2012 (i.e. full and overcrowded route 66 buses as per usual). At the time of writing (4:40pm) TransLink were yet to update their website, despite the press release having been a few hours ago. (Update 5:55pm - TransLink service bulletin now available).

Exploding CNG buses are not new. Explosions have also occurred in Brisbane in 2008, Seoul in 2010, and Sydney in 2011. Thankfully Brisbane is moving back to cleaner diesel powered buses, which seems to use a slightly less volatile fuel! With commuters being able to ride CNG buses again from Monday 23/01/2012, here is a video of what happens when a CNG powered bus explodes. BrizCommuter will take a train tomorrow!

Update 24/01/2012

Unfortunately more than 20 of the quarantined buses were accidentally put back into service in Monday 23/01/2012. This safety breach is very concerning. The reduction in pressure will also result in buses having to be re-filled more often, potentially decreasing fleet  efficiency and increasing the risk of re-filling accidents. 

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