Last Christmas Wham!
The driver of a Norwich park and ride bus has been praised for the calm professionalism he showed when the vehicle caught fire on Thursday evening.
The double-decker bus owned by Norse was carrying around 30 passengers to the Postwick Park and Ride when driver Stuart Jones noticed smoke and then flames coming from the engine compartment at the back. He stopped the bus on the Postwick roundabout (near Broadland Business Park and Postwick Park and Ride) and ensured that all passengers from both decks got off safely.
Flames spread rapidly from the engine compartment and the bus was destroyed by an intense fire, accompanied by a small explosion.
Paul Bonham, Commercial Director for Norse, said: "Stuart is a very experienced driver and acted very professionally by stopping in a safe place and making sure passengers left the vehicle quickly and safely. Our drivers are trained for emergencies of this sort, and this incident showed the value of that training.
After the fire in this vehicle the engine compartments of all our other double deckers have been checked, and all have been found to be in good order. We apologise to the passengers on the bus for what happened, and to other road users caught up by disruption. We may never find out the precise reason for the fire, except that it was engine failure of some sort, but we do know that this vehicle had been properly maintained."
Norwich park and ride services are provided by Norfolk County Council and Tracy Jessop, assistant director travel and transport, said she was pleased that Norse, which operates three park and ride services under contract to the County Council, had acted quickly to check all similar vehicles.
"I would also like to commend the driver, Stuart Jones, who dealt with a very difficult situation particularly well, remaining calm and taking care of his passengers. It is reassuring to all park and ride users that drivers are well trained and know exactly what to do when the unexpected happens," she said.