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July 18, 2014

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Bus companies boost fire safety measures

A LOCAL bus company has taken steps to improve passenger safety in the wake of the recent arson attacks in Hangzhou, Changsha and Guangzhou.

Yang Yong, spokesman for the Pudong Yanggao Bus Co, said the firm recently took possession of 138 buses that have an emergency release button fitted to the outside of the rear door.

“In the event of an emergency, a driver can open the back door from his seat, but if he is unable to do so for any reason, the new fixture will allow the doors to be opened from the outside,” Yang said.

The new vehicles will run on 10 routes in Pudong, he said.

In a similar move, Shanghai Bashi Electric Bus Co said yesterday it has doubled the number of emergency hammers on more than 300 of its vehicles.

The buses, which operate on 12 routes across the city, used to be equipped with just three or four safety hammers, but they now carry at least seven or eight apiece, it said.

Some of the tools are even fitted with an alarm system, so that as soon a hammer is lifted from its cradle a beep sounds to alert the driver and passengers.

The firm said it hopes the beeping will also help to deter would-be thieves.

Meanwhile, the Shanghai Transport Commission, said that the city’s bus companies have appealed to all drivers to be extra vigilant in the wake of the recent attacks.

Likewise, support workers at terminal stations have been told to carry out thorough checks of all vehicles at the end of each day to ensure safety facilities, such as fire extinguishers and emergency hammers, are in place and working.

They should also check for any suspicious luggage left on the vehicles, the commission said.

Bus companies have also been told to improve their driver training programs to ensure personnel know how to deal with emergency situations.

As well as the requests made to bus operators, the commission has appealed for help from the public.

“Gaining the support and cooperation of passengers is key to the success of our safety efforts,” said Lu Gaosheng, spokesman for the agency’s transport management division.

“We don’t have the right to carry out extensive baggage searches, but if a driver spots something suspicious — like a package or bag that smells of gasoline or paint — we hope passengers will agree to a quick safety check,” Lu said.

“If a person refuses to cooperate, the driver should immediately contact the police,” he said.

On Tuesday, two people were killed and 32 were injured when a blast tore through a bus in Guangzhou. A 25-year-old man was detained the following day and allegedly told police he caused the explosion to vent his anger after losing money gambling.

On July 5, more than 30 people were injured, many of them seriously, when a man doused a Hangzhou bus in banana oil and set it alight.

The arsonist, who was arrested two days later, smuggled the oil onto the bus in a large plastic container hidden in his backpack.

In the third of the attacks, a 30-year-old man on July 11 set fire to a bus in Changsha because he wanted to be sent to prison where he knew he would be fed. Two people were hurt in the incident.

Aside from taking steps to combat arsonists, Pudong Yanggao Bus said it has also fitted 1,100 of its vehicles with an engine-fire prevention system.

Sensors monitor the engine temperature and in the event of it rising too high or catching fire, canisters of carbon dioxide are automatically activated to douse the flames.

“The system is designed to prevent fires sparked by oil leaks or faulty wiring,” Yang said.

In the past 12 months, Shanghai has witnessed three bus fires caused by engine malfunctions.

The vehicles have also been fitted with a new surveillance camera — in addition to the basic four fitted to most buses — that provides a driver’s eye view through the front windscreen, Yang said.


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