THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The brand new electric buses could end up being a liability to Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC). With one of the buses now in the garage following a crash in Cherthala the other day, only nine buses are on the road now. Plans for increasing the number of buses are also in the works.
Primarily, the running cost of these buses is too much. To top that, the collection is comparatively low when it comes to electric buses. On most days, they reach Thiruvananthapuram barely filled or even empty. M P Dinesh, CMD, KSRTC, said it is not unique to electric buses alone.
“The number of commuters is low on all services this season. This applies to the electric buses also. There are days when the collection goes as high as `24,000 and even much lower. The government has announced more buses which will hopefully come through. It is mainly a policy decision more than a question of loss or gain.
The main gain is there will be less pollution. However, as of now, we are not intimated about more services. As of the maintenance cost, since they are leased buses, KSRTC does not have to bother about it. There is also a Central Government subsidy of up to `50 lakh for electric buses and many other aids for this environment-friendly service,” said Dinesh.
However, not all are content with this environment-friendly gesture. This concern can be considered valid given the service is run by the corporation which struggles to make ends meet at the end of every month. “ If the bus gets caught in a traffic block, the charge will be lost and the chances of the bus being stranded on the way increases. One charging station costs around `26 lakh and as of now we only have three functioning charging stations. Transformers are necessary to set up the charging stations and the current stations were made where the transformers were nearby. If we need new charging points, new transformers will have to be bought by paying KSEB,” said M G Rahul, general-secretary of AITUC-affiliated Kerala State Transport Employees’ Union.
The buses are stopped when the charge reaches 20 per cent and it will take up to three hours for the bus to be fully charged again. This plays a role in making passengers hesitant to travel in electric buses.
The budget promise to change all the services in Thiruvananthapuram Corporation to electric buses, thus making it the first city in the country to have e buses might just have to wait.