Several public and school buses in Paphos are out of service due to safety concerns, following an incident where a school bus caught fire. Buses will remain off the streets until they are equipped with automatic engine-fire extinguishing systems to ensure passenger safety.
Why are Paphos buses out of service?
Several public and school buses in Paphos are out of service because they do not meet safety standards. A recent incident where a school bus caught fire prompted this action. Buses will be sidelined until they are equipped with automatic engine-fire extinguishing systems to ensure the safety of students and other passengers.
Safety Standards Trigger Bus Withdrawal
Public transportation in the Paphos district faced a significant disruption when several public and school buses were deemed to be below safety standards. On a brisk Monday morning, the streets found themselves devoid of the usual bus activity as vehicles were removed from service. Alexis Vafeades, the Minister of Transport, expressed regret over the necessity of the decision during a discussion on a local morning program. The buses, unfortunately, did not meet the contractual requirements for safety equipment.
Incident Prompted Action
This action by the Ministry of Transport wasn’t without precedent. It followed intensive deliberations held over the recent weekend, sparked by a concerning event. A school bus, while in the midst of transporting students through Aglantjia, encountered a dangerous situation as it caught fire. This was not a singular event; it marked the third such occurrence, underscoring a troubling pattern that could not be ignored.
Enhancement of Safety Measures
In a proactive measure to bolster safety, the ministry announced that all Emel buses equipped with more than 22 seats and used for student transportation would be sidelined. The buses will remain off the streets until they are retrofitted with automatic engine-fire extinguishing systems. This precaution extends to buses subcontracted by Emel for the transport of students of all school ages. However, this does not impede the buses’ involvement in other transport activities.
Ensuring Compliance and Monitoring
Despite the transportation company’s objections, the halt of operations was deemed essential for safeguarding the wellbeing of students. Vafeades highlighted the company’s unsatisfactory safety track record as a motivating factor for the decision. With a series of fires in mind, the minister’s stance was firm: the pattern suggested a glaring deficiency in the safety environment, warranting immediate action.
The ministry disclosed plans to dispatch inspectors to examine all vehicle certification premises. This initiative aims to identify the specific weaknesses in the current system of safety checks.
Legal and Regulatory Discrepancies
A core issue identified by the minister relates to a “difference of interpretation” concerning safety equipment contract terms with the state. Following a previous bus fire incident in October, the ministry had demanded that all buses be equipped with updated safety systems. This was in spite of legislation permitting vehicles registered before 2009 to operate without these systems.
Although European safety regulations came into force on September 1, 2021, they were not retroactively applicable to the now-questioned buses.
Impact on Bus Routes
The withdrawal affects a substantial number of routes. Students and regular passengers who typically travel through the Paphos district will experience disruptions. The affected routes are integral to the daily commute of many, connecting various schools and residential areas. The transportation company has committed to providing updates as buses return to service following the necessary safety upgrades.
Certifications for Remaining Buses
While the suspended buses undergo enhancements, the ministry has clarified that all Emel buses with over 22 passenger seats performing regular intercity and rural routes meet European standards. These buses are already equipped with the mandated fire extinguishing systems and sensors, ensuring passenger safety.
Alternative Transport and Future Updates
The Paphos transport organisation (Osypa) has echoed the Ministry of Transport’s statement, confirming that the larger buses will be temporarily out of circulation. With a shortage of minibuses, most routes, including those serving schools, are expected to cease operation. However, the community awaits further announcements as the situation develops and buses are progressively upgraded.
In the meantime, Cyprus Public Transport (CPT) has assured its passengers that their entire fleet adheres to the latest safety technology, indicating that their services are unaffected by the ministry’s directive.
- Several public and school buses in Paphos are out of service due to safety concerns following a school bus fire.
- Buses will be sidelined until they are equipped with automatic engine-fire extinguishing systems.
- The decision to withdraw the buses was made after they were deemed to be below safety standards.
- The withdrawal affects a substantial number of routes, impacting students and regular passengers in the Paphos district.
- Cyprus Public Transport (CPT) has confirmed that their fleet adheres to the latest safety technology and is unaffected by the directive.