KOCHI: In what could prove a game changer, the KSRTC on Saturday started the trial run of the electric bus in the city, with Education Minister C Raveendranath flagging off the e-bus at a function at the Vyttila Mobility Hub.Addressing the gathering, Raveendranath said the electric bus may well be the solution to the problems faced by the public transporters. “As we are aware, the KSRTC faces several issues. There has been a lot of brainstorming on slashing the running costs while incr easing the corporation’s carrying capacity. A proper plan is being formulated to revive the KSRTC. The government wants the KSRTC to be a profit-making entity and overcome all the financial issues. The electric bus is part of the drive to turn the KSRTC into a profit-making establishment,” he said.
The minister also sought the cooperation of KSRTC employees and the public for nursing the corporation back to shape. He said electric bus currently undergoing trials on various terrains indeed has the capacity to bring down the running costs. Moreover, it is environment-friendly. However, P T Thomas MLA said some of the KSRTC employees had claimed they were not given the opportunity to test drive the e-buses. Drawing the government’s attention to the never ending snarls at Vyttila on account of the disruption caused by the flyover work and Metro construction, Thomas urged the authorities to take appropriate and speedy action.
K V Thomas MP appreciated the KSRTC’s move to go in for environment-friendly buses.
Raveendranath, P T Thomas and K V Thomas also travelled in the electric bus for a short distance. The low-floor bus built by the Hyderabad-based Goldstone Infratech will undergo testing on various terrains in the district till June 27. The K9-D.2 variant of the bus can seat upto 35 passengers and it is wheelchair- friendly.
The bus has a top speed of 90 kmph. In Kochi, eight services have been scheduled for the electric bus starting from Aluva at 6.30 am and ending at the same place by 8.35 pm. The bus will be plying to Fort Kochi, Infopark, Paravoor, Nedumbassery Airport and Aroor logging 292 km daily. On June 27, the bus will be taken to Kozhikode for similar trials.
The 15 day- long trial run of the electric bus got under way in Thiruvananthapuram on June 18. The bus will be charged at night. It requires around four-five hours to get fully charged. The bus can run for 350 km on a single charge and the power consumption for a kilometre is around 1.5-1.8 kWh. “The bus started from Thiruvananthapuram to Aluva with a fully charged battery. On reaching Aluva, the bus had 18 per cent charge left. The bus was on trial mode and it stopped at every station and the public were allowed to get a look-in,”a KSRTC officer said.
Geared up for ‘electrifying’ start
If the trials prove successful, the government may well procure the electric-buses on lease . Since the price of the bus is around `1.5-2.5 crore, the government might explore the lease options. “We are looking on procuring the bus on lease as well. Since these buses are quite expensive, huge amount of money is needed to purchase them in bulk. We will decide on it only after the testing of the vehicle is completed. There are other domestic electric bus manufacturers and we will invite global bids if the tests are indeed successful,” an officer said. The government will also seek the opinion of other states where the electric buses are operational now.