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Helsinki pulls electric buses from traffic over steering defect

Helsinki Regional Transport HSL has removed locally-made Linkker buses from the roads until the cause of the steering defect has been identified.

HSL currently operates 10 electric buses in the Helsinki region. Image: Ronnie Holmberg / Yle

Helsinki’s fleet of electrically-powered buses have been pulled from traffic after a steering defect was detected in one of the vehicles on New Year’s Day.

"Some kind of rod in the steering broke," said HSL group chief Mika Häyrynen, adding that the vehicle had been in service with passengers on board at the time.

"It was in service but we don’t know the precise number of passengers. As far as I know it was not a hazardous situation, because the rod snapped at a traffic light and the bus had stopped," he added.

However Häyrynen noted that the situation could have been dangerous.

"Of course if the steering goes and the bus is moving fast then the consequences could be unimaginable," he commented.

Buses back on the road in Sweden

The Helsinki public transportation authority had been using 10 Finnish Linkker electric buses. Häyrynen said that Turku had also stopped using a similar kind of vehicle.

Swedish public broadcaster SVT said that Linkker buses used in Luleå in northern Sweden had also been taken off the road but had been put back into service.

According to Häyrynen the buses will not be used in the capital region until the manufacturer has been able to investigate the malfunction and repairs the defect.

"It depends on whether or not it was a matter of an isolated steering rod for example, or if it was caused by a material defect. Then it will be enough to change it to a working part. But if it’s a question of some kind of structural flaw, in other words if some kind of vibration caused a stress rupture then we would have to look more closely at the structure of the entire bus and consider what needs to be done," the city manager explained.

Several different transportation providers had been using the Linkker buses. HSL was due to purchase 30 fully electrically-powered buses, but it is not yet known who the manufacturers will be. HSL’s goal is for 30 percent of Helsinki buses to run on electricity by the year 2025.

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