Going green: Chandigarh to buy 20 electric buses; 40 ‘super luxury’ buses soon too
Three months after a trial, Chandigarh administration has decided to buy 20 electric buses for local routes in a bid to curb pollution. For the Rs 32-crore project, the administration will issue a request for proposal (RFP) on Friday, with a time period of 15 days. Transport secretary KK Jindal said after choosing a seller and completing formalities, the buses “should be here within two months”.
Jindal said that since the cost of each electric bus is “very high” at Rs 1.5 crore — a similar diesel bus with AC costs approximately Rs 25 lakh — these will be bought under a central government scheme, in which 60% of the cost will be borne by the Union ministry of heavy industries and public enterprises. This reduces the effective cost to the UT to Rs 60 lakh. The key difference, apart from electric buses being zero-emission, is in the running cost. While diesel buses cost Rs 18 a km on this count, electric buses run for Rs 5 a km.
The current fleet strength of Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) is 578, of which 392 ply in the tricity (Chandigarh, Mohali, and Panchkula) and periphery.
So far so good
UT administrator VP Singh Badnore had green-signalled the project in November last year, and CTU started the process of introducing electric buses in the city under the Smart City plan.
This year, in August the administration trialled buses from various companies and found the idea feasible eventually, with the subsidy from the Centre making the deal doable.
The zero-emission ability of the buses comes also at a time when the air quality of the city has been recorded frequently in the ‘very poor’ bracket. There was no division, however, immediately available on how much of that is caused by vehicular pollution. At the same time, it must be mentioned that Chandigarh has the highest per capita car density in India, with the number of cars outnumbering the population.
40 ‘super luxury’ buses sought for long routes
Passengers travelling to Delhi and places in Punjab and Uttarakhand from Chandigarh can expect better services from CTU as the UT transport department wants to add 40 ‘super luxury’ buses for these routes. Of the fleet strength of 578 with the CTU, 186 ply on non-local routes.
“We have the budget to buy six so far,” said transport secretary KK Jindal: “Another 34 will be hired from a contractor, once we get approval from the Union government. With this hiring arrangement, we will save funds as even the cost of maintenance will be borne by the contractor.” The buses will ply to the Delhi airport, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Haridwar and Dehradun.
“Each bus will be equipped with 49 semi-sleeper seats, adequate luggage room, air-conditioning and heating, mobile and laptop chargers in all rows, and LCD television for entertainment. Mineral water, and English and Hindi newspapers will be provided to passengers free of cost,” Jindal explained.