‘Subsidy on e-buses not the way forward’: Experts
At a conference, Connect Karo, organised by the World Resources Institute (WRI), experts discussed the electric vehicle (EV) model of China as a case in point.
The first batch of the proposed 1,000 electric buses for Delhi is likely to be rolled out by the end of this year. Experts, on Thursday, however cautioned the state government about issues related to subsidy, batteries and power consumption of these buses while implementing the project.
At a conference, Connect Karo, organised by the World Resources Institute (WRI), experts discussed the electric vehicle (EV) model of China as a case in point. It was after hosting the Summer Olympics in 2008 that China pushed for e-buses in its public transport system at a massive scale. Now, the city of Shenzhen has become the first in the world to have an all-electric fleet of 16,000 buses.
Daizong Liu, China transport program director for WRI, said instead of giving a subsidy on procurement of e-buses, the Delhi government should consider subsidising the basis of usage. “For years, the Chinese administration used to give heavy subsidy for buying e-buses. But, later it turned that there was no way to ensure quality of service after the operators started to run these buses. So, now China is reworking its subsidy model to make it usage-based. Electricity or charging cost is waived depending on the number of kilometers clocked and the satisfaction level of passengers,” he said, adding that another way of subsidizing e-buses is providing land for depots to operators.
While experts said that buses and taxis are the best segments to kick start an electric vehicle revolution in any city, subsidising them is only a short term measure to give it an initial push. The Delhi government, which has earmarked a budget of ₹1,807 crore as initial cost for the project, is going to provide a subsidy of ₹75 lakh per bus, or 60% of the cost of the e-bus, whichever is lower, to the concessioner. An e-bus that the government plans to run will cost either ₹1.5 crore or ₹1.75 crore, depending on the model chosen.
Liu said the e-bus project in Shenzhen too faced multiple challenges. “Like in Delhi, China also faced the problem of multiplicity of authority. To get even a single e-bus on road, one had to get approvals from at least seven different agencies. Issuing licenses to a large number of e-buses was taking a lot of time through the usual channel. So, the state formed a special cell comprising representatives of every concerned department who meet at least twice a year to give all the approvals by sitting together,” he said.
The e-bus project in Delhi was delayed by several weeks because of lack of coordination between the state transportation and power departments. It took two cabinet meetings led by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to get adequate responses from the power department on the project.
To bridge this gap, Jasmine Shah, vice-chairperson of the Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi, said the Delhi government will be setting up a dedicated electric vehicle cell in its transport department, which will be the nodal agency for the project.
Shah said Delhi’s draft electric vehicle policy puts the thrust on shifting the 73 lakh two-wheelers into electric as they are the major polluters in the city’s air. “The policy also plans to disincentivise petrol and diesel vehicles by asking them to pay more,” he said.
Prabhjot Kaur, CEO at Centre for Battery Engineering and Electric Vehicles (C-BEEV), said the model used by Shenzhen, where batteries in e-buses are taken, on rent is a more reliable model instead of asking the manufacturers to build it. In Shenzhen, bus operators only buy the bus from manufacturers and take the batteries on rent by a third party. The third party, in this case, is an expert manufacturer which takes care of replacement and maintenance of the batteries, thereby saving on the operating cost of the buses.