Plan to introduce electric buses in Delhi hits a fund roadblock
While the buses have significantly low operational cost compared to the CNG low-floor buses plying in Delhi, the problem is their high procurement cost.delhi Updated: Jun 14, 2017 23:46 IST
Touted to be the hallmark of eco-friendly public transport in a city of clogged roads and polluted air, the Delhi government’s plans to introduce electric buses has been put on the back-burner.
While the buses have significantly low operational cost compared to the CNG low-floor buses plying in Delhi, the problem is their high procurement cost.
“The cost of an AC electric bus is thrice that of an AC CNG low-floor bus. Both have the same seating capacity of 31 passengers. So it was decided that we could wait until the market price dips,” said a Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) official. Air-conditioned CNG low-floor buses that are currently running on Delhi roads cost about Rs 85 lakh each, while an AC electric bus costs Rs 2.5 crore.
From March 10 to July 2, 2016, the DTC operated an electric bus on a trial basis. Buoyed by its performance, which proved to be better than the existing CNG buses, the corporation had planned to introduce 25 such buses after which more were to be inducted. They were supposed to be air-conditioned with WiFi and CCTV cameras.
The performance report of the lone AC electric bus that ran for four months in the city in 2016 said its operational cost was Rs 17.25 per km. In contrast, a CNG AC bus costs DTC Rs 17.60 per km.
While CNG buses are more prone to breakdowns, the electric bus did not report any breakdown during the trial period. “There was just one case that too of puncture. Unlike CNG buses, these buses do not have any mechanical breakdowns due to absence of engine and gear box among others,” an official said.
The electric bus, provided by a Chinese company without the Delhi government having to pay for anything, ran more than 250 kms on a single charge that lasted for about five hours. It consumed 27,368 units of power, which comes to an average unit rate of Rs 10.66 for the 16,915km it covered, the report stated. On the other hand, for a CNG low-floor bus, the DTC pays Rs 12.66 per kilometre as maintenance cost.
“The best thing about electric buses is that they has a lower maintenance or repair cost than a CNG-run. Moreover, while CNG buses still emit gases, electric buses are zero emission vehicles and also have lower manpower requirement,” added another official.