Metro pulls 164 buses because some shut off while in motion

Metro facilities on Calvert Street, Colorado Avenue and Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase will be getting new doors, windows and restrooms.. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

WASHINGTON — More Metrobuses unexpectedly shut off while in motion, which has now led to Metro pulling 164 buses from service until the agency and bus manufacturer can figure out what is going wrong.

The issues with the 2015 and 2016 model year New Flyer buses are being treated as separate from similar unexpected shut-off issues with North American Bus Industries 2014 model year hybrids that occurred last year. The issues in that case have been identified and mostly resolved.

In the current case, Metro said engines on two buses unexpectedly shut off while the buses were moving “at low speed.” Two people were hurt when the brakes kicked in automatically, jarring the bus to a halt.

The first incident was last Thursday, while the second incident, which triggered the entire fleet of buses being pulled from service, occurred Wednesday.

The 164 40-foot compressed natural gas buses represent about 10 percent of Metro’s bus fleet, so riders can expect some delays until the issue is resolved.

Metro has enough reserve buses available to fill about half of the hole.

These buses that are grounded typically run out of the Bladensburg garage in Northeast and the Four Mile Run garage in Arlington, Virginia.

While Metro initially indicated Wednesday night that riders might only notice “some slightly longer wait times” between buses, the agency said Thursday morning that the rush-hour 3Y route between East Falls Church, Rosslyn and McPherson Square would not run at all Thursday.

On other routes, Metro selected specific scheduled trips that would not run that the agency hoped would have the smallest impacts.

The buses are still under warranty, Metro said, and New Flyer is assisting in the investigation.

While it is more difficult to get a rush-hour credit for a bus delay than a rail delay anyway under Metro’s rush-hour refund policy, the transit agency said any bus deployment delays blamed on this issue would not qualify for a “Rush Hour Promise” credit.

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