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Number of buses out of service rises to 53

After days of bus cancellations, many announced shortly before the routes had been scheduled to depart, the Ministry of Transport warned off a “blame game” over what are maintained to be unusual technical problems.

The Island’s fleet suffers from what a spokeswoman described as “legacy issues”, but swift efforts were said to be in train.

The fleet had a “manageable” number of vehicles out of service until two weeks ago, but an “unusual, huge spike” has pushed it as high as 53. Problems included electrical issues, overheating and accidents.

Remedial steps promised include:

• Overtime for technicians on jobs that will have the greatest impact on returning vehicles to service;

• Reinstating a second shift, from 2pm until 10pm, starting October 5;

• Bringing in a technician from the manufacturer to help with specialised repairs.

Cancellations that have hit the Island over the past week reflected a number of buses out of service that was “far from normal, was not anticipated and very perplexing considering the efforts that have been made to reduce the number of out of service buses and cancellations”.

The ministry also commended its staff, including bus operators, and said it was fully aware of the impact of cancellations on the public.

“This is evidenced by the fact that the Government purchased 16 new buses in 2014 and has four more on order for delivery in 2016,” a spokeswoman said.

The influx would lower the fleet’s average age, she added, saying that before recent deliveries the Department of Public Transportation had last taken on new buses in 2009.

“The Fort Langton depot is currently being renovated to repair issues that are over ten years old including the upgrades to the operators changing rooms, toilets and rest areas.

“Upgrades to the garage and essential mechanical equipment are also planned.

“Playing the blame game will not do very much to resolve the current issues. Quite frankly, we must work together. It will take a collective effort by DPT management and staff, especially those tasked with maintaining our fleet, with the continued support of the ministry and by extension, the Government, to have a public transportation service with minimal disruption and one that addresses the needs of all of our citizens.”