CHENNAI: For the first time in Chennai, electric buses for public transport are likely to be operated from Wednesday. According to official sources, two buses will be operated and the routes selected for the trial run are: Chennai Central-Thiruvanmiyur and CMBT, Koyambedu-Broadway. One bus will ply in each of these two routes from August 14.
Ashok Leyland, an automobile maker, will operate the buses on behalf of the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC). These two buses will be part of the 501 buses that Chief MinisterEdappadi K Palaniswami will flag off on Wednesday for various public transport corporations in Tamil Nadu.
The state government in recent years took a policy decision to encourage electric buses in public transport to reduce the pollution.
Last month, the government gave permission to MTC to accept the proposal of Ashok Leyland to ply the electric buses in Chennai. “As per the agreement, the private company will have to bear the expenses of maintenance. One bus will have battery swap technology and another will have fast-charging technology. The company will set up the facilities for recharging the buses," said a transport department official.
However, the MTC will bear the bill for the electricity for recharging the buses and in turn the Corporation will get the ticket collection. “While the drivers will be designated by the company, the MTC will deploy conductors for the buses,” said the official.
The electric buses that will start plying on Chennai roads from Wednesday is an outcome of the various efforts by the government in last two years to introduce electric buses in city.
In July 2017, a trail test for an electric bus was conducted in Chennai. Followed by this, in June 2018 the State government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with England-based C-40 Cities
Climate Leadership Group to manufacture electric buses. It proposal was to introduce 200 buses in Tamil Nadu. But even after a year, this initiative did not move forward. It is learnt that the Tamil Nadu
government had requested the Central government to negogiate the procurement cost of a bus from Rs 2 Cr to Rs 1.5 Cr. The decision is still pending in this matter.
A week ago, the Union government sanctioned 525 electric buses for Tamil Nadu under Phase-II of Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles in India Scheme (FAME India Scheme).
More AC and small buses for districts
Besides the two electric buses, the Chief Minister Palaniswami on Wednesday will also flag off low cost AC buses for Villupuram division of TNSTC and small buses for Salem division.
The number of new buses allocated to various public transport corporations and divisions are: State Express Transport Corporation (SETC) - 118; MTC- 235; Villupuram (TNSTC) – 19; Salem (TNSTC) – 60; Coimbatore (TNSTC) - 16; Kumbakonam (TNSTC) - 25 ; Madurai (TNSTC)14 and Tirunelveli (TNSTC) - 14. According to official records, about 3881 new buses added into the
fleet of eight transport corporations in the last two years.