Routes for electric buses mapped out

The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), which is likely to introduce non air-conditioned electric-bus services from November 1, has identified several routes such as Kengeri to Banashankari, Bidadi, Yeshwantpur, and Banashankari to Yeshwantpur. To start with, BMTC will run five e-buses with the aim of inducting all 90 vehicles by December.

A BMTC official said they hope to introduce the services on Karnataka Rajyotsava. “We are waiting for consent from the Chief Minister’s Office and the Transport Minister. The first batch of buses will be operated from Kengeri to different points using the ring roads. Fares that are applicable for ordinary buses will be charged for e-buses as well,” said the official.

The corporation has started the process of transferring ‘excess’ drivers working in two depots, Yeshwantpur and Kengeri, to other depots as they will not be operating the e-bus fleet.

Under the Bengaluru Smart City Project, BMTC will run 90 non-AC e-buses. As per the agreement, it will provide only conductors who will collect fares from passengers, while the operator will be in charge of providing drivers and maintenance staff required to run the e-buses. Accordingly, 80 drivers from each of the two depots will be transferred out.

Not all BMTC staff are happy with the decision. A section alleged that operating e-buses through a private agency will hit employees hard in the long run. Others see it as an attempt to make inroads into the gradual privatisation of the corporation.

However, BMTC officials maintain that drivers who voluntarily come forward seeking transfer will be transferred to other depots. BMTC officials said that the introduction of e-buses will not affect jobs. “We are just transferring drivers from one depot to another,” said an official.

Buses under the Smart City initiative will be operated as metro feeder services, with a capacity for 33 passengers in each vehicle.

More transfers are likely to be initiated when BMTC starts operating e-buses under the FAME 2 project. Under this initiative, Bengaluru will get 300 non-AC e-buses.

AC bus services on the rise

The BMTC is gradually increasing services of AC buses. The number of buses operated to Kempegowda International Airport has been increased from 45 to 58. However, most of the fleet is still not operational. Of the 860 AC buses in its fleet, BMTC is currently running only 110. On the other hand, around 5,000 regular non-AC buses are back on the road.

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Sagar Biswas

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