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Electric buses return to Mumbai streets after 45 years

Previously, electric buses operated in the island city till 1971; four of six buses acquired by the BEST were launched on Friday

mumbai Updated: Nov 11, 2017 00:18 IST
Kailash Korde
Kailash Korde
Hindustan Times
Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray launched the buses at Wadala depot on Friday.(Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)

Forty-five years after they were phased out, electric buses have returned to Mumbai’s roads. The first set of these buses were inducted in the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) fleet on Friday.

BEST ran electric trams in the city from 1907 to 1964 and electric buses from 1962 to 1971. Those e-buses, known as trolley buses, drew power from overhead wires.

The new e-buses, however, run on lithium ion batteries. Unlike the buses run on fossil fuels, they do not have an engine, gearbox or clutch. Electric motors ensure that they are noiseless and smokeless. They are hence more eco-friendly than hybrid electric and compressed natural gas-run buses, said BEST officials.

BEST bought six buses, each worth Rs1.63 crore. Of these, four were manufactured by Goldstone Group, a joint-venture of leading Chinese e-bus manufacturers. Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray inaugurated them at the Wadala depot on Friday.

“Our BEST buses are similar to London’s. Electric buses are the best way to tackle climate change,” Thackeray said. Mumbai mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshar said Union heavy industries minister Anant Gite also offered to get 20 electric buses for Mumbai.

These single-decker buses will ferry passengers on ring routes from Churchgate, CSMT and NCPA from Saturday onwards. The remaining two electric buses will join the fleet before December.

“The buses will reduce operational and maintenance costs by 50% to 60%. We want to convert the entire fleet to e-buses, for which the manufacturing costs need to be reduced,” said Surendra Bagde, general manager, BEST.

The introduction these buses has come at a time when air pollution has increased owing to vehicular emissions.

First Published: Nov 10, 2017 16:41 IST