Delhi is likely to get its first set of electric buses for mass public transport in February, transport minister Kailash Gahlot said on Monday.
“The prototype of the electric buses which have been procured by the Delhi government reached the city on Sunday. If there is no Covid lockdown again, we are hopeful that the first batch of fully electric buses for public transport in Delhi will be rolled out next month. Thereafter, e-buses will be added in batches of about 50 every subsequent month,” Gahlot said.
The prototype bus that is expected to be pressed into service from next month is currently being tested by the state transport department and the vehicle manufacturer JBM Auto Limited. The low-floor buses will also be equipped with hydraulic lifts to enable passengers on wheelchair to board the bus. They will also have GPS trackers, panic buttons and CCTV cameras among other features, the minister said.
In July 2018, the Delhi government first announced that it would induct 1,000 electric buses into the city fleet, after the Delhi cabinet approved the scheme. At that time, the government claimed that it would be the first city-state to roll out e-buses on such a large scale. Three and a half years later, cities such as Pune, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Kolkata already have functional e-buses, but Delhi is yet to kickstart its plan.
Gahlot said the first set of e-buses will be flagged off by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. “It will most likely be in the first week of February,” he said. On October 28, HT was the first to report about the Delhi government’s plan to procure only electric buses for public transport in the future.
According to the Delhi government’s plan, documents of which were seen by HT, it will procure 2,300 electric buses in the next one and a half years. Of this, 1,300 e-buses will be under the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and the remaining 1,000 will operate under the cluster scheme, for which tenders have been floated.
In addition, the government is in the process of procuring 800 new CNG buses, which will be the last batch of CNG buses to be pressed into service by the city administration in the national capital.
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.At their full capacity, including standing passengers, these buses carry about 4.2 million people every day.
By 2023-24, the government plans to increase its public bus fleet to 9,568 of which 5,358 will be electric and 4,210 CNG-run.
The DTC is planning to build seven exclusive electric bus depots in the first phase with a capacity to park 615 vehicles. These include Mayapuri Depot, Rohini Sector 16, Dichao Kalan, Peeragarhi, Ghazipur depot, Banda Bahadur Marg-1 and Nehru Place depot. The DIMTS, on the other hand, will build the Kushak Nallah depot as a electric bus depot in the first phase with a capacity to accommodate 240 e-buses.
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.
Amit Bhatt, executive director (transport), WRI India, said electric vehicles have low operating costs. “Any fuel, even if it’s CNG, accounts for 40% of the operational cost of buses in our cities. With electric buses, the operational cost will come down, 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,” he said.