A spokeswoman for S-Bahn operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) told the daily Berliner Morgenpost that 40 busses have been taken off their routes for mechanical repairs, adding that the problems are specific to each bus and not common to the fleet, as has been the case with the cracked wheels discovered on the commuter trains.
Three busses were forced off the road by police – all running the route between the Berlin convention centre and the community of Wannsee southwest of the city. Officials cited faulty steering, damaged chassis, a loose wheel lug and a leak from a battered gas tank. One bus was in danger of catching fire, police said.
The latest breakdown in service has increased calls on Berlin’s transit minister Ingeborg Junge-Reyer to renegotiate the city’s contract with DB, worth €225 million.
The substitute bus service has been carrying more than 500,000 people to their destinations on a daily basis. More than 175,000 people a day have been using the expanded services offered by BVG, Berlin’s public transit agency, which operates subway trains, busses and trams.
The regional Berlin-Brandenburg transit agency VBB has also increased regional train service to compensate for some of the closed high-traffic suburban routes that have been cancelled, such as S-Bahn service to Schönefeld airport.
Many of the S-Bahn routes were cancelled July 20, after federal railway regulators ordered Deutsche Bahn to pull nearly three-quarters of all the commuter trains for wheel repairs. No S-Bahns have been running on the city’s main east to west rail axis, from Ostbahnhof to Zoologischer Garten.
The routes are expected to be restored at a reduced capacity by August 9 and all the trains should be back in service by December.