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Electric bus EXPLODES on the school run


A fleet of electric buses have been taken out of service after one burst into flames in Wimbledon during the school-run this week.

Commuters were swiftly evacuated after a huge blast ripped off the back of an Optare Metrodecker 1050 bus travelling from Mitcham to Raynes Park in South West London at 7.20am on Friday, January 12.

As a result, Transport for London (TfL) have removed buses serving the 200 route as a 'precaution' while an investigation into the fire on Wimbledon Hill Road is carried out.

TfL is now working with the bus operator London General and manufacturer Switch to investigate the cause, which fire expert Neil Pedersen said was most likely due to an electrical fault and not linked to lithium batteries.

Tom Cunnington, TfL's head of bus business development, told the Guardian: 'As a precaution, the fleet of buses that normally operate on route 200 is being temporarily withdrawn from service by GoAhead while the investigation continues, with other vehicles being brought in to cover.

'All buses made by the relevant manufacturer will be checked thoroughly as a matter of priority.

'Other buses in the fleet remain in service and TfL and bus operators will not hesitate to take further action if required to ensure the network remains safe.'

More than 80 Metrodecker buses operate on eight London routes around the capital – the others being the numbers 23, 28, 134, 295, 317, 626 and N28.

Following the fire on Friday, TfL, which has about 1,000 electric buses across its network, said it will not withdraw any Metrodeckers and has insisted they are safe.

Meanwhile, a second London bus burst into flames on Saturday morning, completely destroying it less than 24 hours after the Wimbledon incident.

The hybrid vehicle caught fire in North Woolwich, East London, just before 7am - with onlookers shouting 'what the f***' as they were urged to 'move back, get back'. The bus involved in Saturday's blaze was an Alexander Dennis Enviro400 hybrid that runs on diesel and electricity, with about 900 in use across 78 routes in London.

It comes as Khan faced calls to launch a 'full and urgent investigation' into the Wimbledon double decker explosion as he ploughs ahead with his stated ambition to make the capital's entire bus fleet 'zero-emission' by 2034.

But Friday's incident was just the latest example of safety faults with electric vehicles – which were the fastest growing cause of fires in the capital last year, according to the London Fire Brigade.

In 2023 there were 150 e-bike fires in London, along with 28 e-scooter fires, which was 53 per cent more than in 2022.