GSRTC mulls switching to cost-effective LNG buses

Rajkot: The Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) will be the first state transport in India to start LNG buses on a pilot basis. GSRTC has given three of its diesel buses to Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) for conversion to LNG. Based on the success of the pilot project, GSRTC will sign an MoU with GAIL to convert its buses to LNG. GSRTC on an average uses 5,00,000 litre of diesel a day and this is adding to the air pollution. According to experts, LNG is an environment friendly fuel because it does not emit sulphur dioxide and it generates 30 per cent less carbon dioxide in comparison to diesel and reduces nitrogen oxide by 80 per cent. For GSRTC, the experiment of running CNG buses was not successful and electric buses are very expensive. According to officials, the CapEx (capital expenditure) per an electric bus is around Rs 1.25 crore. But the conversion of a diesel bus to LNG costs Rs 12 lakh. The capital cost of a new diesel bus is Rs 28 lakh and if it is converted to LNG, the total cost comes to Rs 40 lakh. GSRTC vice-chairman and managing director M A Gandhi said, “We have given three buses to GAIL for conversion. They will obtain fitness certificates after the conversion. The cost of conversion of one bus will be Rs 12 lakh. Being a public transport, we have to think about using clean fuel and at the same time it should be cost-effective.” According to Gandhi, GAIL will provide LNG at a price which is Rs 10 less than bulk diesel price. “We believe that there won’t be much difference between fuel cosst of diesel and LNG. If the LNG model becomes costeffective and environment friendly, we will sign an MoU with GAIL,” he said. GAIL has a LNG fuelling station at Waghodia. Besides, GSRTC may use the LNG fuelling station of GSPC at Dahej. Once the LNG tank is filled, the bus runs for 850km. The LNG carrying capacity is 2.5 times of the CNG tank. A few years back, GSRTC wanted to switch to CNG buses for clean fuel purpose but it realised that it was not cost-effective and so the project was not successful. The state transport has now only 14 CNG buses in its fleet. In terms of life and resale value, a diesel bus is also superior to a CNG bus. A diesel bus lasts eight years, while a CNG bus lasts only five years. Schools prefer to buy diesel buses while they are hesitant to to buy old CNG buses because of safety issues. The scrap value of a diesel bus is around Rs 3 lakh.

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