When a public bus in a major city finds itself in flames, terrorism and crime are likely suspects. When this happened in Rome, Italy, however, it just landed as one of the many entries under the #flambus hashtag. No terrorists or bombers, just same old Rome – and they might have a flaming bus problem. What’s happening in this heated controversy?
The most recent of these incidents had just occurred last May 8, again in Rome, when Number 63 bus had itself aflame near the busy shopping street of Via del Tritone. This marks the ninth incident this 2018, and the 22nd since 2017. Yes, there have been 22 incidents of these “flaming buses” since 2017, and have been happening so frequently that Romans in social media even have a hashtag for it – the aforementioned #flambus.
Some said it got to a point that a bus exploding in Rome isn’t linked with terrorism, and is treated like a daily affair. For Romans, there is only one to blame: Atac, the city’s transport authority.
A matter of age, time
Whenever asked, Atac blames its aging fleet, and added the number of incidents since 2017 have gone down. There were also no reported passengers that were hurt, although the recent incident in the shopping center apparently had a shop owner sent to a hospital as he was suffering from shock and burns from the incident. Moreover, while there were no reports of injured passengers in previous incidents, a lot of people say it may only be a matter of time.
Fabio Rosati, transport consultant, said everyday this issue is untouched means a greater risk of passengers getting hurt in the future. As such, there’s a need to rehaul Atac’s transport system. Some are starting to blame the government for the apparent lack of move to resolve the issue, with others even saying they are “playing with lives.”
Just this March 2018, the fires came to a point that union officials already warned passengers of the risks of riding buses through Atac. Claudio De Francesco, regional secretary of the Faisa Confail union, said drivers working under Atac are just praying the fires aren’t going to get triggered by the hot weather as well.
The bus debacle: What’s wrong?
Investigations over the bus that caught on fire – one Mercedes Citaro – said the particular bus was on duty since 2003. Atac did admit that its buses were on “very high average age.” Investigations at this point see a short circuit as a cause of the blaze. It was thanks to the quick thinking of the driver on shift that no passengers were hurt as he evacuated the passengers when the fire broke out.
Unions say the buses themselves lack maintenance, but Atac said it’s already increased preventive measures to protect the buses from catching fire. They said this is the reason as to why there were reduced fires this year.
Others, especially consumers, said the “umpteenth” fire is a sign that the buses should be taken out of commission if passenger safety cant’ even be guaranteed. Some Romans on social media blamed the incident on the administration of Virginia Raggi, current mayor of Rome. It can be remembered that Raggi, a member of the Five Star Movement and incumbent mayor as of 2016, promised improved rubbish, water, and transport services. Unfortunately, her administration has also been riddled with corruption issues as of late.
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