BENGALURU: Passengers travelling on a NWKRTC AC Sleeper Corona from Bengaluru to Belagavi were rudely awakened when their luxury bus collided with a lorry on NH-4 between Tumakuru and Sira in Kalambella police station limits at 1 am on Wednesday.
Fortunately, no one was injured but the front portion of the bus was damaged with the main exit door completely jammed. The emergency exit door, installed recently in Corona buses, took about 25-30 minutes to open and provide a safe exit for the 48 passengers, who are questioning its utility in the event of a fire or seriously injured people.
The need for emergency doors was felt after the Volvo accidents and fire mishaps in which many passengers died last year.
Speaking to Express, one of the passengers, B Y Sharath Kumar, said, “We had travelled about 120 km when a lorry taking a U-turn collided with us and the entire front portion of the bus (KA 22 F 2037) was hit, with the exit door completely jammed. Later, getting out of the bus turned out to be a nightmare.”
He said the emergency door was repeatedly hammered, but it would not open, and so people somehow got screw drivers and cutting pliers and managed to open it with great difficulty. “If the bus had caught fire or people had been seriously injured, then how would we have got out of the bus? In any accident, there is hardly any time to save people, so the authorities have to think about operable emergency exit doors,” he said.
Confirming delay in opening the emergency exit, one of the crew members, Suresh Bhimappa Kadar, said the bus was just a month old.
“There was a bit of a delay. However, we managed to open it,” he said.
In the aftermath of accidents involving private buses, emergency exit doors were also installed in Corona buses, said H Baburao, general manager (technical), North Western Karnataka Road Transport Corporation. He added, “Passengers who were supposed to operate the emergency door had difficulty in opening this maybe because they hammered it the wrong way instead of following the signs that are displayed for breaking it. To open the emergency exit, there is a small knob with a glass cover that has to be broken with a hammer. We cannot keep this knob uncovered as it may trigger the opening of the exit door in case of jerks or friction. Since there was a collision with another big vehicle and an all round panic situation, it resulted in the delay.”
Earlier, Corona buses had no emergency exit doors and there was only a roof top opening. However, with the government making installation of emergency exit doors mandatory for passenger vehicles, there has been 100 per cent compliance. Further, the windows in this bus had sliding glass panes that could have been operated in times of emergency, said Baburao.