Only e-buses will be added to city fleet in future: Kailash Gahlot

Only e-buses will be added to city fleet in future: Kailash Gahlot

Delhi currently has a fleet of 6,793 buses, of which 3,760 are run by the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and 3,033 are operated by the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) Limited

Delhi will only procure electric buses in the future, with an aim to increase the share of zero-emission vehicles in public transport to over 50%, transport minister Kailash Gahlot said on Wednesday.

In an interview with Hindustan Times, Gahlot said the Delhi government will order 800 CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) buses in two batches — 450 in the first and 350 in the second — to replace cluster buses, which have reached their end of life.

“These will be the last batches of CNG buses that the Delhi government will procure. After that, we have decided to procure only electric buses for public transport,” Gahlot said.

Delhi currently has a fleet of 6,793 buses, of which 3,760 are run by the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and 3,033 are operated by the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) Limited through the state transport department.

Although the number of buses currently operational in Delhi is at an all-time high, ever since the Commonwealth Games in 2010, the increase in population means that the city requires around 11,000 buses for public transport, according to various court orders and studies.

The minister said in the next one and a half years, the government will procure 2,300 electric buses, in addition to the 800 new CNG buses.

“Of the 2,300 e-buses, 1,300 e-buses will be under the DTC. The letter of acceptance for 300 e-buses has already been issued and the first batch will start rolling out from January 2022. The remaining 1,000 e-buses will operate under the cluster scheme, for which tenders have been floated,” Gahlot said.

It was in July 2018 that the Delhi government first announced that it would induct 1,000 electric buses into the city fleet, after the Delhi cabinet approved the same.

At that time, the government had claimed that it would be the first city-state to roll out e-buses on such a large scale.

Three years later, however, Delhi still does not have a single electric bus while cities such as Pune, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Kolkata already have functional e-buses.

When asked about the delay, Gahlot said the reasons ranged from re-tendering to the slow pace of manufacturing owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as delay in readying depots with charging infrastructure.

“Now we are actively following it up and the first prototype of the e-buses is likely to arrive next month. Setting up the charging infrastructure also took time because it took several rounds of meetings with the distribution companies who are to provide the electricity connections for the charging infra. We also had to study and identify the standard charging capacity that each depot will have. All these issues are sorted now,” he said.

The plan, as per documents seen by HT, showed that the DTC is planning to build seven pure electric depots in the first phase with a capacity to park 615 e-buses. These include Mayapuri Depot, Rohini –II, Sector 16, Dichao Kalan, Peeragarhi, Gazipur Depot, Banda Bahadur Marg-1 and Nehru Place depot.

Apart from these, the DTC will also build four “hybrid” bus depots — a combination of electric and CNG stations — at Subhash Place depot, Rajghat depot, Hasanpur Depot and Bawana.

The DIMTS, on the other hand, will build the Kushak Nallah depot as a pure electric depot in the first phase with a capacity to accommodate 240 e-buses. In the second phase, seven more depots will be built with a total capacity to accommodate 1,340 e-buses.

By 2023-24, the government plans to increase its bus fleet to 9,568 of which 5,358 will be electric and 4,210 CNG.

Of these, DTC will have 5,119 buses — 3,889 will be electric and 1,230 CNG. Under the cluster model, 4,449 buses are planned of which 1,469 will be e-buses and 2,980 will be CNG.

On August 7, 2020, the AAP government notified the Delhi Electric Vehicle Policy 2020 — it was unveiled in December 2019 by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal — with an aim to reduce air pollution and to kick-start the economy by spurring demand for e-vehicles.

The policy envisages that by 2024, 25% of all new vehicle registrations should be battery electric vehicles (BEVs). The policy also offers subsidies, and road tax and registration free waivers for electric vehicles purchased in the national capital.

Amit Bhatt, executive director (transport), WRI India, said, “We all know that electric vehicles have low operating costs and e-buses are no different. What we also need to remember is that fuel, even if it’s CNG, accounts for 40% of the operational cost of buses in our cities. With electric buses, the operational cost be cheaper and also help in the overall business planning of bus operations. The environmental benefits of e-buses are phenomenal as they have zero emissions and zero carbon footprint.”

Transport expert Ravinder Kumar said since CNG buses will still be operating until they phase out, Delhi will get ample time to review the performance and efficiency of electric buses.

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