Express press service
CHENNAI: The Institute of Road Transport (IRT), the technical arm of the Department of Transport, will soon launch a tender for the purchase of 500 electric buses. “Bus specifications are being finalized and tenders will be launched soon. About 80% of the cost will be funded by KfW (German Development Bank),” a well-placed IRT source said.
The tendering procedure, however, will only begin after obtaining approval from the Madras High Court, which had suspended the purchase of buses that are not suitable for disabled people. “The hearing in the case could take place within the next two weeks,” an official said.
In the 2019-2020 budget, it was stated that 2,000 e-buses will be purchased under a Memorandum of Understanding signed with the London-based C-40 Cities Climate Leadership Group in March 2018. The government also announced that it had signed an agreement with KfW (German Development Bank) for the acquisition of 2,000 electric buses. However, no funds have been released.
The plan to purchase electric buses was also provided for in the 2020-21 budget, but funding was lacking. In the 2021-22 budget, out of the Rs 3,820 crore allocated to the transport department, Rs 451.5 crore was earmarked for the purchase of electric vehicles through a loan from KfW.
Urban planners have estimated that the transition from fuel-powered mobility to battery-powered vehicles will only be profitable when the share of private electric vehicles increases. Dr Abdul Razak Mohamed, a professor at the Vijayawada School of Planning and Architecture who studied public transport in Chennai, said the operation of electric buses in India is still in its infancy.
“Even in New Delhi, it has only been introduced on a trial basis. Uninterrupted operation is the only way electric buses will attract more investment. For this, charging stations should be installed in large number in bus depots and highways,” he added.
The first trial of an electric bus was conducted in Chennai in July 2017. In 2019, automaker Ashok Leyland introduced two electric buses on the Chennai Central-Thiruvanmiyur and Koyambedu-Broadway routes for MTC, to have them canceled in a matter of minutes. month.
During the trial phase, the private company took on the maintenance expenses of the buses and the MTC took the revenue from the buses.
In August 2019, the Center’s Department of Heavy Industries approved 525 electric buses for eight cities in the state under Phase II of the Faster Adoption and Manufacture of Electric Vehicles in India (FAME India Scheme) scheme. .
That plan was scrapped last year after the Center refused to provide a grant to the TN transportation department. “The purchase of electric buses under FAME II is not financially viable. There were a few terms and conditions that go against state government policy,” the official said.