Belfast Telegraph

Derry Traders' fury as stuck bus blocks street for six hours

The tour bus became jammed in the Waterside area of Londonderry
The tour bus became jammed in the Waterside area of Londonderry
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

Traders have called for extra measures to prevent coaches from using a steep street in Londonderry after a tour bus became trapped for six hours.

The coach got stuck on the bottom of Fountain Hill - believed to be one of the steepest streets in the UK - on Wednesday.

Tailbacks quickly formed behind the vehicle and on Spencer Road - a main link route from the Waterside to the Craigavon Bridge and the city side of Derry.

The driver of the bus, which is registered in Kilkenny, is understood to have followed directions suggested by his vehicle's sat nav.

Multiple attempts were made to move the coach onto Spencer Road and to reverse it back up Fountain Hill, but it would not budge.

Eventually, a crane arrived at the scene and helped to get the bus - and its embarrassed driver - moving again.

Frustrated traders said vehicles often got stuck on the bottom of the hill.

Liam Donnelly, who owns the Ritz Bar at the junction, explained: "The whole of Spencer Road was blocked off completely for six hours and that had a big impact on my trade, especially at lunchtime.

"I spoke to the bus driver to find out how he managed to end up going down the hill.

"I thought that it might have been an older bus that didn't have an up-to-date sat nav system, but he said that the bus was new.

"He told me he that he put all the instructions into the sat nav, but it still sent him down Fountain Hill.

"He was coming from Belfast and was on his way to the Guildhall.

"They had to send for another bus and get the passengers and their luggage loaded on to that.

"If this was a one-off, it would be one thing, but two weeks ago the same thing happened with a massive digger that was on the back of a lorry.

"I know there is a sign at the top of Fountain Hill saying that it isn't suitable for buses, but that isn't working.

"I think that they (the authorities) need to do something else."

While some traders saw a fall in business, for Cafe Zest owner Hugh O'Donnell, it was a different story.

"Most of our usual business is from the people who work on Spencer Road, so the road being blocked didn't have too much of an impact," he explained.

"In fact, our trade went up because the passengers on the bus came in for a coffee.

"They were mostly American tourists who seemed bemused by what had happened.

"None of them seemed irate anyway."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Infrastructure said drivers should take heed of the sign warning that the road is not suitable for buses.

She added: "Signage is in place on Fountain Hill clearly stating that the road is unsuitable for long vehicles and buses.

"There is a responsibility for all drivers to be in control of their vehicles at all times, to pay attention to warning signs and be aware of the size of the vehicle they are controlling."

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