Fleet to include 310 CNG buses, 50 electric ones and 100 diesel-driven buses

The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) is set to add 460 buses to its fleet, Transport Minister Antony Raju informed the House on Thursday.

He said the efforts to procure the buses which include 310 compressed natural gas (CNG)-powered and 50 electric ones were nearing completion. Orders have already been issued to purchase 100 buses at a cost of ₹50 crore in the current fiscal.

Mr. Raju also said the government had initiated steps to convert 3,000 diesel buses to eco-friendly fuels such as CNG and liquefied natural gas (LNG). Kicking off the endeavour, the contract to convert five diesel buses to CNG has been awarded to a New Delhi-based firm. The electric buses will be procured with the assistance of the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB).

Failed experiment

The experimental launch of 10 air-conditioned battery electric vehicles that were procured on wet lease with much fanfare in 2018 proved to be a failed endeavour.

Pointing out that the KSRTC incurred losses through the venture, Mr. Raju said the public utility could generate only ₹38.01 a km, while the corporation had to pay ₹43.2 per km to the lessor under the terms of the agreement. The KSRTC also had to bear the electricity charges and also remunerate the conductors.

Citing another lacunae, the Minister said the electric buses had to be charged for travelling 200 kilometres. This required the bus to be halted for nearly 30 minutes at Haripad for fully charging its batteries while being plied for services along the Thiruvananthapuram-Ernakulam route. This prompted several travellers to opt for other buses to save time.

Currently, two electric buses have been provided for use by the Kochi Metro Rail Corporation, while the remaining had been returned to the lessor after the KSRTC faced the prospects of incurring further losses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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