Passengers 'boiled alive' on heated buses

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Baxenden Bank

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From the BBC:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-36849648

Basically, passengers complaining about the heating being on, full blast, on the hottest day of the year. I must agree with them, yesterday I had a similar experience on a First in The Potteries bus.

Makes me want to stay at home knowing just how unpleasant the bus journey will be.

As a side point, am I the only person that thinks the leather / pseudo leather seats on modern buses just make the situation worse - so you walk off the bus with a damp backside?

Following on from the winter discussion about the heating not being sufficient in winter months, just what is wrong with either UK bus design (or operation in practice) which makes travelling by bus such an unattractive proposition?

Passengers have complained of being "boiled alive" on buses - after heaters were switched on during the hottest day of the year.

One passenger thought she was going to "pass out" and another said it felt like he was "walking into an oven".

One man said the driver told him the heating needed to be on in order to keep the engine cool.

The services are run by East Midlands bus operator Trent Barton, which said it was not aware of the problem.

Tom Morgan, director of service delivery, said: "Our vehicles are one of the most modern fleets in the country and we don't need to put our heaters on to cool our engines down."

Mr Morgan said he would need to find out more in order to explain what happened.

Rainu Bhele said fans on the Mickleover service in Derby were blowing out "very hot air" and estimated that temperatures reached between 35C (95F) and 45C (113F).

"I've been to India in 46C heat and it felt very similar," she said.

"It was significantly cooler outside when I got off the bus, which is saying something."

She said she felt quite dizzy and lightheaded by the time she got home.

"It was awful. I thought I was going to pass out and there was no way of cooling myself down," she said.

Temperatures reached 32C (90F) across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire on Tuesday, which was the hottest day of 2016 in England and Wales.

'Heating on full blast'

John Heath, who took a service between Nottingham and Mansfield on Tuesday, said passengers were "boiled alive".

"It was like walking into an oven," he said.

"The windows were open in the bus but made no difference because the heating was on full blast."

Mr Heath said he spoke to the driver when he got off.

"He said 'Sorry mate I can't turn it off, it's on all the time, it helps the engine'," he said.
 
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jon0844

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I remember running a heater on an old Fiesta XR2 I bought as a run around once. Engine coolant kept leaking and it sort of worked. That was 20+ years ago on a car about another 10 years older!
 

edwin_m

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I had this on the Bournemouth-Swanage bus about eight years ago. The tops were put back on the buses in the first week in September come what may, despite it being much hotter than average in that week in that particular year. Driver said he was unable to turn off the heating or the engine would overheat.

However, for balance, I was dreading a bus trip from Bangor to Caernarfon today as part of the Ffestiniog/WHR circular. We were absolutely baking at the bus stop but the bus (Arriva, Wrightbus of some sort, similar to many TB operate), despite not being air-conditioned as far as I could tell, was delightfully cool.
 

endecotp

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Same experience in Cambridgeshire about ten years ago.
Cycled to work instead - less sweaty, but only marginally.
 

yorksrob

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A warning to all the TOC's who somehow think that slinging leather seats in 1'st class is somehow 'trendy' or 'classy'.
 

overthewater

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Thankfully newer buses are controlled by the drivers cab ie Heater fans switch.

Mind you just means in about 10 years time the problems will be solved.
 
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Pigalle

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I asked a TB driver about this today. Their view was that if the engine was overheating then putting the heater on was one way of trying to alleviate this. If correct then the choice for the passengers yesterday came down to being boiled alive on the bus or being boiled alive at the bus stop waiting for the nus that never comes!

On TB's facebook page yesterday in response to a comment about the lack of air-conditioning on its new Rainbow One buses TB said that customer research showed that customers wanted USB ports rather than air-conditioning

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/co...ment_id=1165764226778329&include_parent=false

With such an understanding of customer needs, it's not a choice between one or the other, one has to wonder how Rainbow One was TB's brand of the year (the clue might be in the use of the word brand rather than service or route).
 

jon0844

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I'd love to know who they asked, when, and how many. The cynic in me would say that if they were ordering buses with USB ports, they'd come up with a survey to say that's what people wanted.

Or they might ask something like 'Would you be happy for USB ports to be fitted to buses to let you charge your phone?' and 'Would you be happy for air conditioning, even if meant a slight increase in fares?'.

I remember in the 1990s being considered mad for seeking out an Escort RS Cosworth that had air conditioning. Even the Lux model at the time didn't have this as standard as far as I can recall, and as I was buying ex-demo, I had a real struggle finding one. I was asked why I wanted aircon for a few warm days a year, and that opening the window or having a sunroof was just as effective at getting cool. Presumably the same people who think buying a fan will help them sleep at night.

I now have two portable air conditioners at home, so I can sleep and work from home on a hot - or humid - day. We may not get loads of them, but boy am I thankful when we do.

Buses should all have air conditioning these days. Air con that actually works too. Like most buses around the world where you'd never dream of having just windows.
 

Pigalle

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I'd love to know who they asked, when, and how many.

And I bet they didn't ask them "would you like a lightweight bus, that rattles a lot and feels as if it is about to fall apart or would you prefer a heavyweight bus that feels sturdy and solid?". Hence the change from Scania L94/Wright Solars to Optare Versas.
 
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ChathillMan

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Summer sun while sat in a box that has an engine on the go with windows. I wonder what the outcome is....

Most if not all operators will have the heating off. That won't help water that is still in the pipes on very hot days though
 
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skyhigh

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On the older buses my local operator runs the heating can only be turned off from under the bonnet with a pair of pliers - I recall on the hottest day last year the driver stopped to borrow a pair off a BT Openreach man who was working by the side of the road...
 

philjo

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It was extremely hot and airless inside the 73 bus I boarded in Oxford Street yesterday (one of the new buses).
There seemed to be a total lack of functioning aircon or air circulation - you were basically inside a sealed box as there are no opening windows and the doors are all closed when the bus is moving. It was cooler on the Victoria Line !
 

thejuggler

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It was extremely hot and airless inside the 73 bus I boarded in Oxford Street yesterday (one of the new buses).
There seemed to be a total lack of functioning aircon or air circulation - you were basically inside a sealed box as there are no opening windows and the doors are all closed when the bus is moving. It was cooler on the Victoria Line !

If it was a Boris bus they don't have aircon, just a very poor performing air cooling system. Its one of the many faults with the expensive vanity project which fails to meet all its design specs.
 

randyrippley

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regular problem with double deckers from Stagecoach's Morecambe depot. Upstairs heaters full on all year round.
If you ask the drivers, the only response is that they "don't know how to turn them off". It seems more a case of they can't feel it in the cab, so can't be bothered. Complain and they tell you to open the windows. Its not just one or two buses, or models - its across the whole fleet, from the oldest Olympians to the newest. And its not just one or two drivers - it seems to be an ingrained habit
 

61653 HTAFC

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If it was a Boris bus they don't have aircon, just a very poor performing air cooling system. Its one of the many faults with the expensive vanity project which fails to meet all its design specs.

A 6-axle design would've been better, lower axle weight and ability to power real air conditioning.
 

edwin_m

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Most of the buses I've been on in central London have been so slow that the ventilation from opening the windows would be almost zero.
 

Andyh82

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I wonder if the heating really was on, or if it was just the fact it was a glass box on wheels with a hefty engine on the back generating the heat.

The fact the newspaper quotes someone saying that "it was cooler outside which is saying something" shows they have no idea about the science of windows and heat.

The lack of opening windows is indefensible though. The streetlites that Go North East have have I think 2 openers on each side down in the low floor front half, with no openers at all towards the back. Every full size window should have an opening hopper really.
 

rail888

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Excuse me ???? - most buses in Hong Kong most certainly do have air-con.

Not many. The aircon ones are more expensive too! Mind you I've not been for 2 years and it may well have changed, but I tend to be in HK every year or so. When were you last there?

The airport service certainly does, and free wifi too. But all those 6 wheel cream coloured beasts don't.
 

Strathclyder

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The B9TLs that are used in my area have air-con, albeit on the top deck only. The air-con on some of them is notorious for blasting hot-air in the summer heat, turning the top deck into a veritable sauna. I try to avoid them as much as possible when the temperature exceeds 20ºC for that very reason.
 
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90019

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If you ask the drivers, the only response is that they "don't know how to turn them off". It seems more a case of they can't feel it in the cab, so can't be bothered. Complain and they tell you to open the windows. Its not just one or two buses, or models - its across the whole fleet, from the oldest Olympians to the newest. And its not just one or two drivers - it seems to be an ingrained habit

On most of the buses I drive, we have little or no control over the heating.
Lots of them have a couple of buttons to supposedly change the temperature, but it basically doesn't do anything. There is a way to turn the heating off on some of them, but almost nobody knows about it and the company doesn't tell us.
 

edwin_m

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Unless the bus was full of water, wouldn't the passengers be "roasted alive" instead of "boiled"?
 

BestWestern

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regular problem with double deckers from Stagecoach's Morecambe depot. Upstairs heaters full on all year round.
If you ask the drivers, the only response is that they "don't know how to turn them off". It seems more a case of they can't feel it in the cab, so can't be bothered. Complain and they tell you to open the windows. Its not just one or two buses, or models - its across the whole fleet, from the oldest Olympians to the newest. And its not just one or two drivers - it seems to be an ingrained habit

It isn't a 'habit', and the drivers are very probably telling the truth. The heating on nearly all buses is controlled via a valve somewhere in the depths of the engine bay, and is not accessible to the driver. It's a silly design flaw, but not something a driver can do much about.
 

the101

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Not many. The aircon ones are more expensive too! Mind you I've not been for 2 years and it may well have changed, but I tend to be in HK every year or so. When were you last there?

The airport service certainly does, and free wifi too. But all those 6 wheel cream coloured beasts don't.
You are straight-up wrong. Every bus in Hong Kong has air-conditioning and that has been the case for a couple of years.

As for heaters on in the summer, it is indeed because overheating would occur if they were left off. This comes about because operators are often too lazy to remove the radiator and clean it thoroughly after the winter and hence it cannot perform properly in the summer.

Way back when I encountered a bunch of Scania 113s with the stupidly-positioned nearside radiator. They would clog up over the winter and then boil in the summer. When the operator began to remove the radiator in March and leave it soaking in soapy water for a few hours before refitting it, it solved the problem. Paying more attention to coolant levels and not over-filling (leading to over-pressurisation) also helped.
 
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fowler9

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Not many. The aircon ones are more expensive too! Mind you I've not been for 2 years and it may well have changed, but I tend to be in HK every year or so. When were you last there?

The airport service certainly does, and free wifi too. But all those 6 wheel cream coloured beasts don't.

Every bus I went on in Hong Kong had air conditioning and this was 5 years ago on 11 August for a week. We didn't pick out any specific routes we knew to have aircon and we didn't pay more. Aside from around Hong Kong and Kowloon we got the bus from the airport to Wan Chai which went all over the place (Not the airport express) and that was air conditioned to.
 
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plcd1

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Not many. The aircon ones are more expensive too! Mind you I've not been for 2 years and it may well have changed, but I tend to be in HK every year or so. When were you last there?

The airport service certainly does, and free wifi too. But all those 6 wheel cream coloured beasts don't.

All HK buses are now air conditioned. The last old style sliding window buses went a while ago and only KMB had any left. Citybus and NWFB have been all air con for a long time now. There are no "split tariff" routes left following the demise of the last non air con double deckers.

Vast numbers of new deckers are coming into all the HK fleets as old Dennis and Leyland / Volvo buses are phased out.
 

randyrippley

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On most of the buses I drive, we have little or no control over the heating.
Lots of them have a couple of buttons to supposedly change the temperature, but it basically doesn't do anything. There is a way to turn the heating off on some of them, but almost nobody knows about it and the company doesn't tell us.

It isn't a 'habit', and the drivers are very probably telling the truth. The heating on nearly all buses is controlled via a valve somewhere in the depths of the engine bay, and is not accessible to the driver. It's a silly design flaw, but not something a driver can do much about.

Thanks for the comments. It simply beggars belief that such a system exists.
 

Flying Snail

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The B9TLs that are used in my area have air-con, albeit on the top deck only. The air-con on them is notorious for blasting hot-air in the summer heat, turning the top deck into a veritable sauna. I try to avoid them as much as possible when the temperature exceeds 20ºC for that very reason.

I doubt that that bus has A/C, outside London there are few if any double deck buses with any form of air cooling. Most single deckers don't either, the ones that do are obvious as the roof mounted unit stands out clearly.

All that will have is a fan and ducting, fine on cool days but useless when it is hot and sunny as the air forced through the sun baked ducts heats up so is hotter than the ambient air.

On most of the buses I drive, we have little or no control over the heating.
Lots of them have a couple of buttons to supposedly change the temperature, but it basically doesn't do anything. There is a way to turn the heating off on some of them, but almost nobody knows about it and the company doesn't tell us.

On any bus I have driven the valve is in a relatively accessible place in the engine bay, I made it my business to find out where exactly after having hot air blasted at me from the demisters on one of our B7TLs. Unless your lot have purposely had the handles removed from the valves they should be fairly obvious red plumbing valve on a thick pipe.

As far as I am concerned driving in a furnace with angry passengers is a hostile working environment and I won't put up with it. If I am too hot myself and being complained to by passengers I am more likely to lose concentration and make a mistake, I am not going to be in that position because management and maintenance do not consider properly servicing the bus aux equipment a priority.

So far I haven't had a bus overhead due to the heating being isolated and even if it did so what? The saloon heaters are not an auxiliary radiator if the bus cannot function properly then it is defective and shouldn't be on the road.
 
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