According to the union, the province should also reconsider the question of whether ‘these are the buses that should last another fourteen years’, as is intended. “We do not have the confidence that these buses will make it,” says De Ridder, after consultations with Keolis, BYD and drivers.
Since Keolis started using the electric buses in December 2020, there have been problems. Problems with the batteries and their charging; with the heating not working; and with steering columns with which everything is wrong. It also drafts in the buses, there are malfunctions with the doors and check-in equipment malfunctions. Because of these problems, rides have been regularly canceled for a year.
If it is up to CNV, the electric buses will be temporarily taken off the road, with the aim of getting them in order before they go back on the road. In the meantime, diesel buses could be used, says De Ridder.
That would go against the sustainability ambitions of Overijssel, but that’s the way it is: “We are also for sustainability, but maybe you should take more time for that?”, De Ridder wonders aloud. “As a client (the province, ed.) you can want to make a good impression with sustainability, but if it goes like this, it might be better to pause. A time-out would give the manufacturer some more breathing space.”
Manufacturer of the buses is the Chinese BYD. That company is also responsible for the technical condition of the buses. To solve the problems, all buses were already tackled last year in a special repair condition, but without success. Last Thursday, BYD even delivered two buses again; buses whose biggest problems had to be solved. But they were rejected by Keolis.
If it is up to CNV, the province will immediately ask an independent technical bureau to assess the buses. “That should answer the question: can this be solved in the short term, are the buses reliable at all, and will they manage to last another fourteen years.”
You may want to make a good impression with sustainability, but it’s better now to put a stop to it.
Drivers’ confidence in this has meanwhile fallen below zero, concludes De Ridder after a meeting with members. “Believe that the problems can be solved, they no longer have that,” says De Ridder. “And the patience has also run out. I therefore really hope that the province will get involved now.”
Without a stripped-down timetable because of corona, it would completely go wrong.
Walking in the Hundred
According to De Ridder, the fact that despite all the problems the number of canceled rides still appears to be not that bad, has only two causes: the stripped-down timetable due to corona, and the creativity of drivers – who trade with buses themselves, in order to be able to complete as many rides as possible. “With a normal timetable, it would completely go wrong,” says De Ridder.
Tomorrow the provincial politicians will talk about the problems with the buses. Several parties have asked the provincial government for clarification on this.