Air-conditioned buses hit a snag

A technical fault took Prague's new airport buses out of service

Efforts to introduce air-conditioned buses on the route serving Václav Havel Airport Prague were off to a rocky start.

The Prague Public Transit Company (DPP) removed all 60 new air-conditioned buses made by SOR Libchavy from service this past weekend due to faulty wiring. Some still remain out of service.

The good news is that the problem can be fixed, and more air-conditioned buses will soon be used on line 119 from Nádraží Veleslavín to Václav Havel Airport, which is usually very crowded.

Prague has been experiencing unusually hot temperatures, so the air conditioning would be quite welcome.

“Due to damage to the alternator in SOR NB 18 EURO VI Step C buses, the DPP has decided to shut down vehicles of this type for safety reasons,” DPP spokeswoman Aneta Řehková said when the buses were sidelined.

DPP says the fault lies with the manufacturer. “They ensured immediate inspection of all these buses. As a result of the manufacturer's statement, some vehicles are starting to be returned to service. Seven units remain out of service … and are being dealt with by the manufacturer in the framework of the guarantees,” Řehková added.

Because of the defects that have occurred, DPP will file a complaint with the manufacturer.

DPP bought a total of 150 vehicles from bus maker SOR Libchavy for Kč 1 billion. These include some of the first buses in Prague equipped with full air conditioning.

More of the buses should be put into service before the summer is over. “New air-conditioned buses are gradually being used on line 119. Currently, five air-conditioned buses can be operated on this line. We expect that by the end of this week, line No. 119 should be served mainly by new air-conditioned buses,” DPP spokeswoman Řehková said.

The SOR NB18 is a low-floor articulated single-decker bus produced since 2008. It is made of two rigid sections linked by a pivoting joint.

Bus maker SOR (Sdružení Opravárenství a Rozvoje) was established in Libchavy in the Czech Republic's Pardubice region in 1991. It makes buses for urban, intercity and tourist traffic as well as trolleybuses. Until 1990, the company produced and repaired agricultural machinery. It shifted its focus after it was privatized in 1991.

Prague has long been looking for a solution to transport from the airport to the city center. It has experimented with several extra-long bus designs that would increase the capacity of each run.

In the long term, commuter rail service is planned for the airport. New stations and rail connections are planned, and documentation is being drawn up. It will be in service by 2028 at the earliest.

Direct metro and tram links have also been considered.

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