The Siddaramaiah government, in the annual state budget yesterday (15 March), announced the induction of 200 electric buses for public transport. Of these, 150 would be allocated to the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) and 50 to the Mysore City Transport Division (MCTD).
The BMTC had earlier completed trial runs of a completely imported BYD Utopia electric bus from China in early 2014. In late 2016, a proposal was mooted to procure 150 such buses, at a cost of Rs 2.7 crore per bus, one that drew criticism due to the high cost.
While the NITI Aayog has come up with a policy that aims to use only electric vehicles for public transport and set a deadline to phase out diesel buses, and plans to implement it in Bangalore and Mysore, along with Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh, a lot of questions remain asked.
With a major drop in water levels in various reservoirs across the state, the state is expected to see bad days in terms of power shortages over the next year. Along with this, the state government is aggressively cracking down on anything that might ease the capital city’s traffic congestion, such as carpooling services. This leads to a question of efficiency.
With these buses sitting in traffic for hours, their batteries are certain to get drained. Will they be able to maintain optimal efficiency? Further, given BMTC’s notoriety when it comes to maintaining buses, will the fleet retain its efficiency after a few months?
Another point to note is politics. The two-month trial period of the electric buses in 2014 came at the end of the government’s first year in power, just before the general elections. Siddaramaiah has been accused of not paying enough attention to Bangalore’s congestion, and with Karnataka going to polls in a year, this might just be a political move.
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