A Paris bus in flames on January 16th in the 5th arrondissement. Photo: Screenshot/BFM TV
The Paris bus system has not had the best time of it lately.
Bus stops have been burned to the ground during violent streets protests (see photo below) and in recent months buses have also gone up in flames, but it has nothing to do with anarchist rioters expressing their anger towards the French president.
After seeing the images of the destroyed buses left blackened by flames is seems miraculous that no one was killed in the four fires.
But while no one was lost their lives or was even injured during the blazes, which occurred between November 2017 and February 2018, it's not exactly an advert for the city's transport system.
So unsurprisingly Paris transport operator RATP has been keen to find out what was behind the fires, and a new report by the Committee for Hygiene, Security and Working Conditions (CHSCT) revealed by Le Parisien seems to have the answer.
It appears the source of the problem is an electrical fault “particularly on diesel buses”.
In each incident it was a diesel bus igniting on the streets of the French capital and each time the start of fire was linked to a short circuit — although where the faulty wiring occurred in each case varied.
On November 8th, for example, a fire broke out in the engine compartment of a bus in the 7th arrondissement of Paris on Rue du Bac and after an investigation was held it was put down to the electric wiring. Following that incident, all 901 vehicles of the same model (Iveco diesel) were checked.
Despite these checks however, two of the other incidents occurred on the same model of bus — the fires of February 7th and February 12th.
However, the fire which broke out on the 16th of January on Rue des Ecles in the fifth arrondissement of the French capital (see Tweet below) took place on a Scania diesel bus, with the probe into the incident revealing that it was also down to an electrical fault.
A representative of the CHSCT told Le Parisien: “It is incredible that there were fires, especially in such a short space of time. The management is not getting the measure of the problem.
“There were other fires that do not appear in this document,” they said, adding that each time there are electrical problems, an audit should be conducted of all the vehicles.
The CHSCT also told Le Parisien that one of the causes of the problem is the “productivity policy” at the company, which they said meant “doing more miles with the vehicles, even if a fault was detected” and that on top of that “there are fewer maintenance workers” meaning that the remaining workers have more to do.
Meanwhile the RATP defended itself, telling Le Parisien that “the overall trend of fire starting on board buses has been decreasing in recent years” and adding that “no injuries were reported, as the evacuations have always been conducted safely thanks to the professionalism of our drivers”.
And Paris is not the only city in Europe that has witnessed the phenomenon of combustible buses. Our sister site The Local Italy have reported that there have been nine similar incidents in Rome this year where buses have ignited with passengers on board.