I am not sure if this fits here Dave, but I feel the need to "blow the whistle" on what I considered to be the better inter city bus line in SA. The regulars at TFSA know that I am busy relocating to Cape Town. Due to my workload and regulars in Port Elizabeth, I take regular trips back and forth(7 trips the past 2 months). I have been reasonably satisfied with the Intercape service so far, it does not bug me that they resort to switching the TV off due to malfunction, as I sleep as much as I can on the road.
Yesterday I worked the whole day in PE and late afternoon received an SMS from Intercape informing me that the bus would be 90 minutes late.(They obviously were already aware of a problem). Today I had 2 inspections here in Cape Town, thus the reason I wanted to sleep.
When the bus finally arrived (125 minutes late) I could hear that all was not well. It was so loud it was difficult to tell whether it was the waterpump or the turbo.
By the time we got to Plett I had had enough. While the driver battled to get the bus into gear, I phoned Intercape and spoke to Angie (00H24). She transfered me to Francis.
I informed him that the bus was problematic from the moment it had arrived, already late, and that I had had enough. Some of the other passengers had also spoken to the driver who denied any major fault. Francis assured me that a bus was on it's way from Mossel Bay(a blatant lie) and that we would await it's arrival in Plett (another blatant lie).
Eventually the driver managed to get the bus into gear and started off. Once I realised that he was not just moving the bus I asked the driver where he was going to as I had been informed by his office that we were to remain there. He replied that we were to meet up along the way(between Plett and Mossel Bay).
The bus carried on until Mossel Bay before we were transfered to a different one.
Now we get to what bugs me. I had told Francis that the bus was unsafe because to take a heavy vehicle through a mountain pass you must be able to use all the gears. When beginning the descent the driver must gear down to remain in control. I also informed Francis that should we not be provided with a safe vehicle I would have to report the disregard for passengers lives to the traffic authorities as well as broadcasters & publications so that the public are aware of the risk in making use of their busses.
I also reminded him of what bad publicity SA Roadlink got when they were not up to scratch.
Despite this, Francis saw fit to lie to me and instruct the driver to continue driving.
In order for the bus to be so late in PE, they must have lost time and been made aware of the fault even before it arrived at East London. I was informed by a passenger who came from East London that the bus was late from Cape Town. This means that the bus from Cape Town to East London was used for the return trip despite having a problem without being checked or repaired.
I recorded a clip with my cell phone which clearly illustrates the noise and the fact that there was no rear number plate. The registration number was however at the front of the bus. There was also a baggage trailer being towed.
In Knysna where I made the recording, I took a closer look but could still not pinpoint the origin of the din. I did however notice an oil leak which I presume could quite possibly have been the cause of the trouble if it was the gearbox that had run dry. The grating and non selection of the gears certainly support this.
To have a bus travel across the country and then embark on the return trip in a faulty condition is a clear display of blatant disregard for the safety of their passengers as well as for the country's legislation.