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Delhi govt to rope in private players to run e-buses
To carry out its ambitious plan of creating a fleet of 1,000 electric buses, Delhi government is trying to rope in private players who would procure and operate these buses in lieu of the operating cost paid by the government.
Delhi’s transport minister Kailash Gahlot told TOI that the government doesn’t want to outright buy electric buses primarily due to two reasons — the prohibitive cost of these buses and the ever changing technology of the electric vehicle sector, which might prove maintenance of buses a tough proposition.
Delhi government has been toying with the idea of adding these environment-friendly buses to the capital’s public transport fleet for some time and initially, the plan was to induct a limited number of buses — between 100 and 200 — and then gradually enlarging the fleet. However, in his budget speech in March, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia announced that the government would procure 1,000 electric buses.
“There is going to be no outright purchase of electric buses because the technology is new and ever changing,” Gahlot told TOI. “The buses would be brought under the cluster scheme and its procurement and maintenance would be the responsibility of the concessionaire. They will purchase the buses, not the government,” he said. “Our aim is to provide better services to people of Delhi and ensure transport vehicles that use clean fuel.”
The transport minister said the electric buses cost Rs 2.5 crore each and Delhi government is trying to provide subsidy to concessionaires through the FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles) India scheme of the central government.
Gahlot said that Delhi government hopes to receive a subsidy of Rs 1 crore per bus under the scheme and the government might also consider financing the viability gap. The FAME India scheme, launched in 2015, is a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan.
“Even with Rs 1 crore per bus from FAME India scheme, the cost would still be Rs 1.5 crore per bus,” Gahlot said. “The subsidy might be provided in one go or in phases. We are trying out different possibilities,” he added.
Once the procurement and financing process is finalised, Gahlot said, the concessionaires would quote their per kilometre rates for operating these buses. The operating cost of electric buses per kilometre is less than CNG buses and in the case of Bangalore, the cost has been found to be much less than other buses.
The government is scheduled to appoint a consultant for the project by June 1 and float tenders by August 2018. Delhi government believes that the first lot of electric buses would start arriving from March 31, 2019. “We are trying to bring the buses within the timeline,” Gahlot said.