‘Safety of passengers and staff is our top priority’ - Translink

Victor Christie witnessed the incident and took a photo of the bus after speaking to the driver at Maydown.
Victor Christie witnessed the incident and took a photo of the bus after speaking to the driver at Maydown.

Translink bosses said that its buses will not travel on the Foyle Bridge when measures are taken to close it as a result of high winds, following an incident last weekend.

A spokesperson of the transport body said that it works closely with other agencies during periods of adverse weather and that the safety of staff and passengers was its top priority.

Translink was responding after local man, Victor Christie, praised a bus driver for managing to keep a double decker vehicle under control despite strong gusts which, he said, almost toppled the bus onto the opposite carriageway.

Mr. Christie, who was travelling behind the bus on the Foyle Bridge, said the driver of the Ulsterbus “deserved a medal.”

Mr. Christie, who later spoke to the driver, said that the Limavady-bound bus was “virtually on two wheels” due to gusts sweeping in from the east on St. Patrick’s Day.

The Department for Infrastructure said the Foyle Bridge warning procedures during high winds are activated automatically when an average wind speed of 30 mph or more was recorded on the bridge.

A spokesperson said: “At this level, variable message signing on the two main approaches to the bridge would indicate high winds and a 30 mph speed restriction. Signs on the roundabout approaches would indicate high winds on the Foyle Bridge.

“Our records indicate that around 14:30 on March 17, 2018, the average recorded wind speed on the bridge was 18.3 mph, with a recorded maximum gust of 28 mph. As such, the automatic warning system would not have activated during that period.”

A Translink spokesperson meanwhile added: “The safety of our passengers and staff is our top priority. We liaise with the relevant authorities, including the Met Office, the Department for Infrastructure and the PSNI, during adverse weather conditions.

“If the Foyle Bridge is closed due to high winds, our buses do not operate on it.”

Mr. Christie said he noticed the bus in front ‘swaying from side to side as the bus was halfway up the gradient’ on the bridge, and the bus being blown onto the outside lane on several occasions.

“On a couple of occasions the bus was virtually on two wheels and it was like watching in slow motion as the bus veered towards the barrier,” he added.

Mr. Christie said that the driver of a bread van, who had overtaken him and was then overtaken the bus when it was back in the inside lane, had a narrow escape.