A concerned Malaysian writes about Malaysian affairs. "You are the Change you Seek" Barack Obama

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Making Express Buses Safe

I caught a discussion on RTM1 this morning when a JPJ official showed a diagram of a bus constructed in Russia where the the frame of the bus is constructed so that the roof structure is welded to the chassis at the bottom of the bus.

I believe in Malaysia the majority of buses have a bare chassis that we sometimes see being driven on the highways with the driver exposed to the elements and this can be built up as a lorry or bus according to the buyer's needs.

This means that any framework added on as for a bus cannot be very strong and in most bus accidents, the top half where the passengers are sitting is easily crumpled or even sheared off.

If you are secured with a seat belt that may increase your chance of being decapitated as you may be in an upright position. So a seat belt may save you from being thrown out but it may just position you in a dangerous position when the roof is sheared off.

The long term solution to make express buses safer is the following:

1.Start a program to remove all poorly designed express buses from the roads within the next 5 years.
2.Grant tax incentives to bus companies to buy safe buses.
3.Reduce speed limits for substandard buses by 20kph on highways.
4.Government program to buy substandard express buses to allocate to cities like JB where all buses over 15 years old should be scrapped.

There was a comparison made between air pilots and bus drivers and the following should be part of the comparison.

Air pilots have strict terms of employment but bus drivers freelance.
A pilot takes care of about 350 passengers whereas a bus driver may have about 40.
Pilots have strong unions to care for them while a bus driver is basically a single contractor.

We should expect improvements in bus travel but in the meantime I will suggest you to avoid travelling in any express bus after 11pm.

Photo: Thanks to the Star


Zawi said...

I had the opportunity to see how a bus body was built up from the bare chasis that you mentioned. The roof is attached to the chasis by very flimsy pillars and huge mirrors. They are mostly held together by rivets and screws. There is no roll over pillars that can prevent the roof from collapsing,crumpling or being sheared off in an accident. I was wondering how on earth can such body prevent the occupants in the case of an accident from beinginjured.
Now that you mentioned it I guess my hunch is true. Beside our substandard design, there are many obtacles along our roads that doesnt seem to assist our motorists. One is lack of clear vision at corners where drivers can see clearly beyond the corners. Second most worrying part is the presence of electric or telephone poles on both side of the road. In Thailand they are aligned on one side of the road and quite far from the road itself. The phone lines are allowed to use the electrical poles on the lower part as part of it support and its own poles will be place in between the electrical poles. There seems to be cooperation between the two utility companies in Thailand but not in Malaysia. Cant we learn anything from them? Or are we too aloof just because we think we are more advance than them?

H J Angus said...

Your idea of sharing common poles is good.

We can learn from the Thais and the companies can also save on costs.

All it needs is a little cooperation.