DRAMA ensued on a bus trav-elling through Cumbernauld after a suspected fire broke out on board.
One of the passengers was Andrew Stephen, the chairman of Cumbernauld Commuter Forum, who has complained to operators FirstBus about the incident.
The bus started struggling on the M80 just after the Stepps bypass, and came to a stop on the inside lane.
Shortly after Mr Stephen, who was on the upper deck, spotted downstairs passengers disembarking. One indicated that those upstairs should do the same.
Mr Stephen was shocked by what he found.
He said: “Acrid exhaust smoke was billowing from between the bench-style five rear seats above the engine compartment. This older style of bus has its stairwell very near the rear of the bus and I had to descend into and towards this smoke before turning and moving forwards to get off!”
According to Mr Stephen the driver was looking into the open engine hatch and talking on his phone, it is thought to the depot.
Mr Stephen was concerned that he did not tell the passengers what was happening or instruct them to leave the bus. A following bus uplifted all passengers and returned them to Buchanan Street..
A FirstBus spokeswoman said the city centre-bound bus was forced to pull onto the hard shoulder of the motorway due to steam emitting from the rear of the bus caused by a fault with the water coolant system.
She said: “The steam, which had entered the rear lower deck of the bus, was brought to the attention of the driver by a passenger. The driver identified a safe place to stop and left the vehicle to investigate the problem. At this point several customers from the lower deck left the vehicle and gathered on the hard shoulder.
“While we accept that the driver should have quickly returned to the vehicle to reassure those customers on the upper deck that there was no danger presented by the steam issuing from the vehicle, other customers who required assistance detained the driver, resulting in customers leaving the bus of their own accord.
“We regret any worry or concern caused to customers but would stress that the fault presented no danger to customers travelling.”