VIJAYAWADA: With the cost of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) touching that of diesel, Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) is contemplating replacing old CNG buses with new variants of BS4 and BS6 compatible diesel-run buses in the Vijayawada region.Over the past one year, the corporation has replaced 25 CNG buses with new diesel variants and is looking forward to phasing out its entire CNG fleet within a two-year period.
Speaking to TNIE on Sunday, APSRTC Vijayawada region deputy chief traffic manager K Sri Ramulu said that Vijayawada was the first city in south India to introduce eco-friendly CNG buses under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).
“About 300 CNG buses were introduced for city operations between 2010-12 in a phased manner. CNG plants were established at Vidyadharapuram, Governorpet and Ibrahimpatnam bus depots with the support of Bhagyanagar Gas Limited (BGL) to operate the new buses,” he said.
“Initially, the maintenance and operation cost of CNG run buses was less as compared to diesel buses. For instance, price of CNG was around `30 per kg in 2010 whereas diesel price was Rs 48 per litre. Considering the cost factor, RTC had preferred introducing CNG buses. However, almost a decade later, the majority of the CNG-buses have logged more than eight lakh kilometers. It’s a norm to phase out buses that have logged over 10 lakh km,” he added.
Speaking about the comparison in maintenance cost between CNG and diesel buses, the deputy chief traffic manager said, “At present, cost of CNG is `60 per kg while RTC procures diesel at subsidised rate of Rs 66 per litre. Compared to the cost of operations when CNG-run buses were introduced in the city, the prices of CNG and diesel are almost the same now. However, while diesel-run buses have fuel tank capacity of 300 litre and can travel 700 km every day, CNG-run buses have fuel tank capacity of only 120 kg and can travel 500 km a day.”
“We want to introduce new CNG buses but there are several problems over maintenance and unavailability of spares, Ramulu added. Asked whether all the 275 remaining CNG buses will be replaced with new diesel variants, the official said that RTC is ready to procure the new diesel variants but manufacturers are not yet ready to supply the requisite numbers which is why it might take two years.