Lack of subsidy: Electric-buses to miss October deadline

Bengaluru: The people’s wait for the BMTC’s electric buses is likely to get longer as they will not hit the roads in October either. Going by official sources, the project has been delayed  because of differences between BMTC officials and Transport Minister, D. C. Thammanna. 

The first phase of the project was to see the introduction of 80 e-buses, including 60 A/C and 20 non-A/C, in August. But the launch was delayed as the Centre refused to provide subsidy to state road transport undertakings introducing electric buses under a contract with private companies hired to run them. The project was then expected to take off in the last week of October. But neither has the  tender for it been completed and nor has the Transport Minister  shown any interest in it. 

Mr Thammanna reportedly believes that entering into a contract with  a private company  to run the e-buses could lead to  a huge loss for the corporation because it will have to provide the charging points, power supply and other requirements. He instead wants it to buy its own e-buses and run them.   

BMTC officials however, feel differently. Says a senior BMTC official,  “The BMTC is already suffering a huge loss due to the fuel price hike. It cannot afford to buy these electric buses and  nor does it have the expertise to operate them.  So it’s better we enter into a contract with a private company that does have it.”

The 12- metre long electric buses will have 35 seats and all the comforts of A/C buses. While they will be operated over 200 kms every day by the private company, the BMTC will also earn Rs. 37.50 per kilometer, excluding the cost of power consumption. It reportedly  plans to install  bus charging points at two bus depots in HSR Layout and Electronic City.  

Goldstone, a Hyderabad-based company, which has emerged as the best bidder,  could take legal action if the BMTC now backtracks on the project, warn official sources.

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