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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, July 25, 2003

Fire threat idles 16 city buses

By Mike Leidemann
Advertiser Transportation Writer

The city is pulling 16 of its newest extended buses out of service because of a possible fire danger.

One of the extended express buses caught fire on the side of the H-1 viaduct near the zipper house on July 10. Eighty passengers were safely removed from the bus.

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City officials said yesterday that a hydraulic fluid leak was found on 10 of the 60-foot buses bought within the past year. The rest of the buses were pulled from service as a safety precaution.

The problem was discovered after a fire broke out on one of the buses July 10. Maintenance crews said the fire probably was caused by hydraulic fluid leaking into the fan drive motor assembly on the bus.

The 16 buses were bought from New Flyer U.S.A. and are under warranty, said Department of Transportation Services Director Cheryl Soon.

They will remain out of service until a representative of the manufacturer can examine the buses and come up with a solution to the problem.

Most of the buses were in service on the popular CityExpress! routes. They are longer than regular buses and can flex in the middle to handle turns.

They will be replaced by smaller 40-foot buses with a reduced capacity.

The city said it also inspected 30 older articulated buses but found no mechanical problems with them.

"I'm proud of our people for identifying the problem," Soon said. "Now it's a matter of working with the manufacturer to ensure that the vehicles are repaired and returned to service."

About 80 passengers on the 6-month-old bus that caught fire along the H-1 viaduct were evacuated. No one was injured.