Tribune News Service
Mumbai, July 13
Mumbai’s BEST transport undertaking will soon have one of the country’s largest fleet of electric vehicles when it inducts 500 electric buses in a year’s time, according to officials here.
The civic-run Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking has taken a decision to invite bids for 500 electric buses under the central government’s Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME II) programme.
“We are in the process of setting up charging stations at various bus depots where the electric buses are planned to be operated,” a BEST official said.
A section of the corporators from the Shiv Sena and the BJP who control the civic body want the fleet of electric buses to be fully air-conditioned, according to officials here.
At present, the BEST operates six electric buses in South Mumbai. Another 25 electric buses owned by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority is being hired on wet lease and will ply in
South Mumbai since BEST has charging stations only at its Backbay Reclamation depot downtown. By the year-end, BEST plans to have 80 buses on its fleet.
The civic-run transport undertaking has reported a surge in ridership ever since it reduced bus fares earlier this month. While the minimum fare for a non-airconditioned bus is pegged at Rs 5, the cheapest trip in an air-conditioned bus costs just a rupee more.
Civic officials say, the electric air-conditioned buses introduced on the Churchgate railway station to Nariman Point have running packed ever since the fares were reduced.
The central government is giving a subsidy of Rs 50 lakh per electric bus provided the ex-showroom price of each vehicle does not exceed Rs 2 crore, according to officials here.
Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray is credited with the move to shift the BEST towards electric buses. “We started this little move in 2013 ..... BMC being the first city to have 6 buses ... from 2015. This year 80. Next phase 500 fully electric buses wld ply in Mumbai,” Thackeray tweeted.
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