BMTC to lease 300 non-AC electric buses
Loss incurred due to COVID-19 is among the reasons cited for dropping plans for AC fleet
Citing losses incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has scrapped its plan to introduce air-conditioned electric buses in its fleet. Instead, it will lease 300 non-AC electric buses.
The Corporation, on Wednesday, floated a fresh tender for non-AC buses under the Centre’s FAME II scheme (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles in India). It had cancelled two tenders in the past citing various reasons, including high operational costs quoted by private bidders.
Since the onset of the pandemic, commuters have been wary of using public transport, with few takers for air-conditioned buses.
BMTC Managing Director C. Shikha told The Hindu that the pandemic has forced the Corporation to rethink its decision to lease AC buses. “A majority of the AC buses in the existing fleet are non-operational. Moreover, the operation of non-AC electric buses will help a larger number of passengers than catering to a particular segment.”
The BMTC has a fleet of over 800 AC buses, but only 50-odd are currently operational.
On the changes made in the tender specification, Ms. Shikha said, “In addition to the Central government subsidy of ₹55 lakh per bus, we have taken a decision to use ₹100 crore budgetary allocation of the State government. Now, for each bus, a subsidy of ₹80 lakh is available. The BMTC is the first road transportation to use both Central and State government subsidy to lease electric buses.”
The Corporation has been attempting to operate e-buses since 2014. This time around though, officials are confident of getting competitive bidding that is financially viable for the cash-strapped BMTC, which has incurred over ₹900 crore revenue loss due to the pandemic.
When asked about whether Chinese companies will be allowed to participate in the bidding, Ms. Shikha said, “We are going by the directions of the Central government, and the companies that are registered with the authorities concerned will be allowed in the tender process.”
In June, after border tensions with China, the Central government had restricted bidders from countries sharing land borders. BMTC had reportedly sought clarity on the issue before floating the tender.