Six intercity routes have been identified by the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) to run electric buses (e-buses).
Through a private operator, the KSRTC will run 50 air-conditioned e-buses under the Centre’s FAME 2 Scheme (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles in India). From a common point, the buses will be operated from Bengaluru to Mysuru, Chikkamagaluru, Virajpet, Shivamogga, Madikeri, and Davangere.
The tender process has been completed to select an operator.
An official of the KSRTC said that a Hyderabad-based company has quoted lower operational cost for running e-buses. KSRTC will pay ₹55 per kilometre to the private operator. When it comes to the fare, existing AC bus fares will be applicable to e-buses as well.
A KSRTC official said that on the identified routes, AC multi-axle buses are already operating and some of them may be replaced with the new fleet of e-buses or additional buses will be operated.
“We planned to operate e-buses on inter-state routes. However, FAME 2 guidelines state that e-buses inducted under the scheme should be operated on intercity routes. Six routes identified are popular routes. Depending on the demand, the e-buses will be operated during the day and night,” the official said.
In 2019, the Central Government announced subsidies for operating e-buses through a private player. In 2020, KSRTC floated a tender, but it was scrapped after the bidders quoted exorbitant operational cost. In 2021, the tender was floated again as lockdown norms eased, and the KSRTC opened financial bidding. The tender process has now been completed and the KSRTC will approach the board seeking clearance.
The official said that for each e-bus, the private player will get a subsidy of ₹55 lakh. “Earlier, we had sought extension for using the subsidy citing the pandemic and other reasons. Induction of e-buses depends on when the private operator will receive the subsidy amount. We are hoping that it will be done as early as possible.”
The private player has to run each bus for 450 km every day. KSRTC will provide the conductor, while the private operator has to employ drivers, maintenance staff, and provide infrastructure for charging, among others.
Among the four road transport corporations, the BMTC has received an e-bus under the smart city project. The BMTC plans to start non-AC e-buses from November 1 with six buses. Buses will be operated as metro feeder services.
On the other hand, NWKRTC is expected to open financial bidding for 50 e-buses in a couple of days. The official said that Kalyana Karnataka Road Transport Corporation has decided not to avail subsidy under the Central scheme citing non feasibility of running e-buses in the region.