The new public bus company in Nicosia says drivers received intensified training, with an official giving more details of what actually happened in the latest accidents including one that was fatal.
Cyprus Public Transport, the company behind the new bus fleet that saw a number of accidents in Nicosia, says drivers are being evaluated by both a safety department and human resources within the firm.
The bus company came under scrutiny following four incidents, including a fatal accident in west Nicosia where a bus driver who stepped off the bus was killed after the vehicle started moving forward.
According to CPT commercial director Alexandros Kamberos, the new buses are equipped with an emergency brake, a parking apparatus, and a brake interlock system that kicks in while doors are open.
"The bus doesn't move by itself," Kamberos said on Friday, adding that recent accidents involving company vehicles were caused by human error.
If a driver wants to exit the vehicle while doors are open, the bus still won't move even if a driving gear is in because of the interlock mechanism
"The driver left a gear in, with the emergency handbrake pulled down, and then he disengaged the door from the driver's side window," he said.
Just like any vehicle with an automatic transmission, if the gear is in the Drive position and you release the brakes, then it will move forward," Kamberos said.
Knews understands that drivers on previous buses would often exit an idling bus and then push a button to close the doors behind them. On even older vehicles, it was technically possible for buses to be driven normally with passenger doors still open.
But there are additional safety features on the new buses, with Kamberos saying all drivers received enhanced training on braking systems in addition to their weekly training sessions.
If a driver wants to exit the vehicle while doors are open, the bus still won't move even if a driving gear is engaged, and that is due to the brake interlock system linked to the door mechanism.
As soon as the door is closed behind him or her, the brake interlock system will disengage, thus setting the bus in motion if also a gear was left in the transmission gearbox.
In other words, a bus driver can make sure an idling bus remains motionless by putting the gear in the Park position and not relying inadvertently on the brake interlock system that can in fact be disengaged by the driver.
Kamberos said adequate training was being provided to all bus drivers, some of whom have been driving between five to ten years under previous managements.
In addition to the recent accidents, CPT has also been deadling with labour union issues, with reports of bus wars emerging in the background over the company’s plan to introduce a new split-shift schedule.
On Saturday, PEO trade union issued a statement calling into question CPT's reference to human error.
PEO raised the question as to why were accidents taking place now and not in the past.
“Why? The company claims that everything investigated so far points to human error. Even if someone were to accept this position, there are still more questions. Why is this happening noe and not yesterday?” PEO asked.