Nitin Gadkari suggests electric buses

The union minister says public transport in the city should run on electricity instead of diesel

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Nitin Gadkari suggests electric buses
MMRDA has began procuring 25 hybrid buses at the cost of Rs 2 crore each


While the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking is already reeling from severe financial strain, Union Road and Transport minister Nitin Gadkari's statements in Mumbai on Monday could be cause for added concern. Addressing a conference at the Indo American Chamber of Commerce, Gadkari said that public transport should run on electricity and not depend on diesel.

The idea seems environment-friendly though it would a further impact on BEST's financial health. The cost of each electric bus is about Rs 1.75 crore. This comes at a time when the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has begun procuring 25 hybrid buses at a cost of Rs 2 crore each, that can run on both diesel and electricity and the first such bus has already arrived.

"There is a need for public transport to run on electricity. Why should we spend crores on petrol and diesel?" said Gadkari adding that electric buses run in cities like Nagpur.

Sources said that the BEST is already working on procuring these electric buses but the undertaking is under prepared for the same. "Our engineers have been working on getting six electric buses on a pilot basis. The cost of each is around Rs 1.75 crore," said a BEST official.

A Bengaluru-based bus manufacturer is working on the interiors and technical aspects of this bus. "The idea is good but the Centre should fully fund these buses. Here, the BEST is taking loans to pay off salaries," said Ravi Raja, BEST Committee member.

The government is also working on electric two-wheelers that will mainly operate in metropolitan and two-tier cities. "Those who can afford it and find it economically viable should convert their car into an electric vehicle. We are working on a model for having electric two-wheelers as public transport," said Gadkari.

The minister claimed there are too many vehicles on the road thus people should use better public transport instead.

Best’s struggles

BEST’s total fleet consists of 3,800 buses which include 1,200 diesel buses and 2,600 CNG buses.
BEST is suffering losses of Rs 2,500 crore, and taking loans amounting to Rs 150 to 200 crore to pay off salaries and maintaining their buses.
They have also taken a loan of Rs 1,600 crore from the BMC. It is also cutting down its fleet of 259 AC buses to manage costs.

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