Paris suspends 149 Bolloré electric buses after two fires

RATP, the public transport operator in Paris, has temporarily withdrawn 149 electric buses of the Bolloré group’s Bluebus brand from operation after two separate bus fires.

On April 29, a fire broke out in a Bluebus 5SE electric bus on line 71 in the 13th arrondissement of Paris, near the national library of the French capital. The driver immediately evacuated the passengers and no injuries were reported.

Fortunately, the firefighters intervened very quickly, about thirty firefighters managing to extinguish the fire. The nearby Bibliothèque François Mitterrand station was closed from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. as a security measure. The electric bus released thick clouds of black smoke and a strong smell of burning plastic, according to eyewitnesses interviewed by BFM-TV.

The incident was filmed and shows the violent fire engulfing the roof of the electric bus where the batteries are located. It certainly looks spooky as burning debris was ejected from the roof, falling onto the pavement and road like a rain of fire.

This is the second fire involving a Bolloré Bluebus in less than a month. On April 4, another Bluebus 5SE caught fire in central Paris on Boulevard Saint-Germain. This vehicle was also completely destroyed but no one was injured. As a safety measure, the RATP has decided to temporarily suspend 149 electric buses belonging to the same Bluebus 5SE series as the two vehicles affected by the fires.

“The RATP has requested a full report from the manufacturer Bolloré to explain the causes of these incidents and to propose an action plan to allow the return to service of these buses in complete safety.”

RATP press release

Bolloré said its subsidiary Bluebus was actively cooperating with the RATP and the competent authorities to determine the causes of the fires.

The Parisian public transport operator has 500 electric buses in its fleet of 4,700 vehicles. Electric buses are provided by Bolloré, Alstom and CNH’s Heuliez Bus.

Bolloré’s 12-meter (39-foot) electric buses can carry up to 109 passengers and offer an estimated range of up to 320 kilometers (199 miles) from lithium metal polymer (LMP) batteries totaling 441 kWh of energy stored. On its website, Bluebus describes the batteries as “completely solid, free of liquid components, nickel and cobalt free.

As the Bluebus 5SE is a low-floor bus, the batteries are distributed on the roof and at the rear of the vehicle.

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