Burning Buses Concern Montgomery County Bus Drivers

10:27 PM, Apr 12, 2012   |    comments
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GAITHERSBURG, Md. (WUSA) --- The union that represents drivers of Ride-On buses in Montgomery County is now threatening to sue the county to get what it considers dangerous and unsafe buses off the road.

The buses in question are less than 30 feet long and have a front that looks like the front of a truck, not the flat front seen on larger buses. Six of them have caught fire in the county in recent years.

"Our biggest concern is the safety of the passengers and the driver. In a fire like this, they go up very quickly. If we have a wheelchair passenger on the bus at the time of a fire, it takes about three to five minutes to load and unload a wheelchair passenger and we're afraid that, if the driver can't get him off, he may lose the passenger and his own life trying to save someone of the public that may be trapped on these vehicles," said union official Frank Beckham.

These buses are a danger to the public and also to our members.
We would like to see the county take these buses off the road immediately, said union officer and bus driver Nelvin Ransome.

"I talked to one of the (bus drivers) of the last vehicle that we had burn. He told me that he had stepped off the vehicle, called his supervisor, told him that the bus is on fire, to dispatch 911, and he said there was so much smoke and flame that he couldn't even get back in the bus to grab a fire extinguisher to fight the fire, so all he could do was stand by and wait for emergency services," Beckham said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has begun an investigation of the bus fires.

Montgomery County did not respond to requests from 9News Now to explain its position on the bus issue.

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