In recent years, Prague Integrated Transport has introduced new fleets of A/C-equipped buses to its lineup of vehicles in the Czech capital.
But even during days of extreme heat melting the city, many Prague buses operated by private carriers aren’t turning on the air conditioning, according to news server Aktuálně.cz.
The reason: currently, use of air conditioning on Prague buses operated by private carriers is at the discretion of the driver. And those drivers may face penalties for excessive fuel consumption – which incentivizes them to leave the A/C off.
“Due to the fact that the contract does not stipulate clear conditions for the operation of air conditioning, it is up to the discretion of the driver whether the conditions necessitate its use,” Martin Farář, spokesperson for Arriva, one of the private carriers Prague contracts to run its bus services, told Aktuálně.cz.
“The premium wage benefit can be reduced for drivers who have overwhelmingly overconsumed [fuel] over the long term compared to other drivers, and are deemed to be driving inefficiently.”
According to Farář, A/C use on buses reduces fuel efficiency by about 10%.
Prague Integrated Transport has received numerous complaints about the lack of A/C on its buses – – despite the fact that those buses are in fact equipped with air conditioning.
A/C use isn’t up to the driver on all Prague buses, however. On lines operated by the city as opposed to private carriers, A/C use is mandatory when outside temperatures reach 22°C, though the drivers can also turn it on at lower temperatures at their discretion.
To rectify the situation with its private carriers, Prague Integrated Transport will amend its current contracts to specify the same requirement for use of A/C on all buses.
The new contract will take effect from January 1, 2020, when use of air conditioning on all Prague buses will become more regulated, and drivers will be obliged to turn on the A/C when outside temperatures exceed 22°C. A/C use will also be carefully monitored, with fines issued for not following guidelines.
Of course, that’s of little comfort to bus passengers during the current heat wave in the Czech capital.