Tender process for leasing e-buses cancelled for the third time

For the third time in a row, the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has cancelled the tender to lease and operate electric buses under the Centre’s FAME II Scheme (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles in India). The Corporation cited high operational costs, the same reason given when the tenders were cancelled in the past.

According to sources, the lowest bidder had quoted ₹65 per km as operational cost payable by the BMTC to the private party to lease buses.

BMTC Managing Director C. Shikha told The Hindu another round of tenders will be floated to lease 300 non-air-conditioned e-buses. “The cost quoted by the bidders was quite high. We expected a more competitive rate. Tender specifications will be modified to receive competitive bidding in the next round. We have already got an extension till March to lease buses under the scheme,” she said.

Transport corporations have taken a huge hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and ridership is yet to reach pre-COVID-19 levels. She said, “Considering BMTC’s financial position, we have to take decisions cautiously. Agreeing to higher operational cost may jeopardise the finances of the corporation in the long run as we are reaching an agreement for a 12-year lease.”

The BMTC has been trying to introduce e-buses in Bengaluru. After failing to avail of Central subsidy under FAME 1 Scheme due to various reasons despite floating tenders in 2018, it made fresh attempts under FAME 2. The BMTC had first floated a tender in 2019.

Last year, considering the poor financial condition of the Corporation owing to the pandemic, it approached the Central government seeking more subsidies and an extension of the deadline to operate buses. It also decided to opt for non-AC buses. Another major decision taken was to utilise ₹100 crore budgetary allocation of the State government as subsidy to lure more bidders.


Smart City lifeline

Despite these setbacks, commuters may still get to ride on e-buses soon as the BMTC is hoping to run them under the Smart City project. The Corporation is leasing 90 non-AC electric buses, which it plans to operate on feeder service routes to Namma Metro.

After receiving the order from the State government, which is likely to come this week, the letter of intent will be issued to the successful bidder, said Ms. Shikha. “Once we give a letter of intent, the successful bidder starts leasing buses within three months. First, they will give a prototype of the bus as per our specification. Once that is cleared, other buses will be operated. We will try to induct a few services this financial year,” she added.

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Sagar Biswas

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