TSRTC’s electric bus plan hits roadblock as costs too high

Corporation officials say project would be unprofitable; funds sought from Centre which is uncertain who ought to be paid – manufacturer or transporter.

Published: 18th May 2017 06:17 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th May 2017 06:17 AM   |  A+A-

TSRTC’s electric bus plan.

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: The Telangana State Road Transport Corporations plans to introduce electric buses has hit a cost-based roadblock.

Officials are unable to come up with input costs for acquiring new buses due to the high cost of these battery-run buses, just one manufacturer in the market without an alternative to source the vehicles and also due to central government’s lukewarm response to plea for financial assistance. The TSRTC, in principle, is in favour of electric buses, say officials.

“If a good model comes at a reasonable price, we will definitely buy it. But as of now the manufacturer has not disclosed the actual cost of the bus. As per our knowledge, it costs more than the initially reported ` 2 crore,” said a senior official of the corporation. 

TSRTC, at present, is operating one electric bus which has been gifted to it by the Hyderabad-based Goldstone Infratech.

The company, which was able to bag contracts from the Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh state governments to manufacture electric buses for them, however, failed  in their efforts in its home state. Goldstone Infratech’s representatives were unavailable for comment. In 2015 the central government had initiated a two-phased scheme, Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric (FAME) vehicles, to promote  manufacture of electric vehicles in India.

Though Telangana has subscribed to the scheme, which was rolled out in only a few states, the Rs 13,000-crore central scheme has largely remained a non-starter as far as Telangana is concerned. Officials connected with the matter say that the central government is undecided on whom to give cash subsidy to bus manufacturers or to state transport operators.

“The central government has to assist the manufacturers and the state operators as well. But they tried to give benefits to the manufactures and it will indirectly help us. But right now, the central government is in a dilemma whether to subsidise the manufacturer or the state transport operator. As of now, there is only one manufacturer,”he added.  

“If we buy an expensive bus, we can’t raise the fares to make it even. Electric bus is expensive on account of its batteries whose cost is about 60 percent of the total bus cost. The Centre should step in to help us meet the initial cost of buying electric buses,” he concluded.

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