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Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Driver of the ‘runaway’ New Routemaster bus is cleared

Chelsea Bridge Road bus crash.jpg
The LT62 (LTZ1062) New Routemaster bus had been off for a long time due to an accident which resulted in a 6 vehicle pileup. The LT62 had only been in service for a few days because the rest of the fleet was being delivered for Route 11.
The media only reported that the driver of the bus, Mohammed Khalique was cleared of driving without due care and attention at Bexley Magistrates Court.
From ITV News
The Judge said it was unclear whether the fault with the bus has been caused by the driver or a computer.
·         The prosecution claimed the driver mixed up the accelerator and the brake.
·         The defence claimed a computer system which controlled the brakes failed which left Khalique trying to control the bus.
·         Mohammed Khalique denied the charge against him.
Leon Daniels, TfL’s managing director of surface transport, said: “New Routemaster buses remain a safe and valued part of the capital’s transport infrastructure”.
From Evening Standard
The CCTV evidence was obtained by the Standard today after Mr Khalique, 60 from Newham, was cleared by a court of driving without due care and attention, a charge which he denied.
A judge at Bexley magistrates court said he could not be sure whether the driver or a “computer glitch” had caused a malfunction in the high-tech vehicle.
The court saw CCTV footage from the new Routemaster,  as Mr Khalique frantically tried to control it for about 40 seconds.
District judge Dennis Lynch said the incident was “truly terrifying to those looking at it and must have been even more terrifying for those directly involved, particularly Mr Khalique.”
The prosecution claimed Mr Khalique mistakenly pumped the accelerator instead of the brake and a Transport for London report discounted computer malfunction.
However, the defence argued the computer control systems controlling the brakes failed and Mr Khalique tried to control the vehicle.
Two expert witnesses told the court their analysis suggested the crash resulted from electrical failure in the £354,000 Wrightbus manufactured buses which started service in 2012.
The bus speeded up after pulling out in Lower Sloane Street and missed a car at a crossroads before crashing into stationary traffic in Chelsea Bridge Road.
Mr Khalique told police he tried the engine isolator and brakes, which were “completely dead”.
In a statement to police he said: “As soon as I pull out bus is going like a bullet, it’s generating itself speed.”
He feared applying the handbrake would flip the bus, adding: “I thought I’m going to die that day.”
Witness Steve Greensword was on-board with his two children and broke his back when the bus crashed into the back of cars.  He told the court: “I ran back to try and protect my children.
“(Mr Khalique) kept saying: ‘I have no brakes, I can’t stop.’”
PC Adrian Armstrong, a Met forensic collision investigator who examined the bus, told the court evidence suggested Mr Khalique mistakenly pumped the accelerator instead of the brake.
This caused “maximum acceleration with no braking whatsoever,” PC Armstrong said.
The court heard Mr Khalique, a married father and bus driver for 13 years, was a cautious driver with a good record who was driving “very slowly and steadily” before the crash.
Sensors showed the brakes working normally beforehand.
Four other drivers told the court they had experienced technical problems on the new Routemastersincluding on-board computer failure, loss of power, and the steering and brakes locking up.

However, you can see the CCTV footage from ITV News and Evening Standard.
The problem is that new vehicles have computers which can end up making the vehicle malfunction, causing the bus to speed up and result in a crash. The New Routemaster buses have the electric drive which moves the bus which is part of being the Electric Hybrid bus. Other malfunctions include air cooling problems as it blows out the wrong temperature when the bus is in service during the summer.
Considering the age which we are in now, many people are dependent on computers, but they don't always give you the full facts. Computers do generate less work for the engineers to deal with the mechanical side of the bus though. Traditionally, engineers used to check the entire bus in order to confirm that the bus was safe to enter into service.
Back when London had the trolleybuses and Electric buses there weren't any computers. It was all done by mechanism, by the hard working engineers. Back in 1906 The London Electrobus Company was formed and they operated using battery powered electric buses. They only lasted for a few years as the bus produced acid fumes.
The New Routemaster bus failed their multiple route tests as it's supposed to be a bus specifically designed for London. There will however be another 200 New Routemaster buses from the fleet of 600 which makes a total of 800 buses because TFL said “popularity of NRMs with passengers and their impact in driving up overall customer satisfaction and brand momentum for buses, it is considered that this is a worthwhile investment.”
The 14th Route to convert to New Routemasters is the 73 which is expected to start by Late April or sometime in May 2015.
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Image attribution
"Chelsea Bridge Road bus crash" by John Pannell - FlickrChelsea Bridge Road bus crash. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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