KOCHI: Metro Fuels, a company that handles retrofitting at Edappally, is all set to convert diesel-powered private buses to CNG. In the beginning, two private buses plying on the Aluva-Tripunithura route and the Vyttila-Vyttila circular route will be equipped with the technology, said the officials.
“The work that started last week has almost reached its final stages. Only the piston head needs to be installed. The CNG tanks and other equipment are already set-up. Within two days, we will be able to complete the work. We are also looking for an influencer to launch the state’s first CNG fitted private bus. If all goes as per the plan, Kochi will have its first CNG powered bus on road by November 1,” said Geo John Palatty, MD, Metro Fuels.
Interestingly, two years after KSRTC launched a CNG-vehicle, private buses have started considering more sustainable alternatives. Though a few private bus operators took initiative, Covid-19 played a spoilsport.
“We are trying our level best to bring the situation back to normal. Only when we manage to make some revenue, we can avail the loan to convert the diesel vehicles to CNG. Since the operating cost of a CNG fitted vehicle is lower than that of diesel-powered vehicles, most bus owners are planning to sign up for the conversion. Nearly 10 buses will make the switch in two months,” said K B Suneer, Private Bus Operators Association.
However, the lack of CNG filling stations is posing a challenge to the bus operators in other districts. Currently, refilling stations are available only in Kochi. Cities like Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode have none. Though several refilling stations were promised by the Indian Oil-Adani Gas Pvt Ltd and BPCL, nothing has materialised so far.
Greener and cheaper
According to the company official, private buses which ply an average of 250km per day can save nearly Rs 40,000 per month by merely switching to CNG.
“This means they can simply recover the total cost of CNG installation within 4-5 months. We hope more private bus operators will come forward after witnessing the performance of the first CNG powered private bus,” said John.