Bolstered by the response to the tender seeking bids to operate electric buses, the BMTC has chalked out a plan to hire 1,500 buses to reinforce the strength of its fleet, where an average of 900 buses is scrapped every year.
The state Budget for 2017-18 had announced the induction of 3,000 buses. Later, officials clarified that only half of will be bought while the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) will be allowed to lease the remaining from private players.
"Of the 1,500 buses to be bought, the BMTC has received 500. The issue of purchasing the remaining 1,000 buses is before the National Green Tribunal. A proposal to lease 1,500 buses was sent to the minister, who sent back the file to get it cleared by corporation's board of directors," a senior official said.
BMTC Managing Director V Ponnuraj confirmed the development and said the proposal has been placed before the board, which will take a decision soon.
"Leasing buses is one of the ways to cut maintenance cost and improve efficiency. We can set terms to ensure that the operator deploys buses in good condition and ensure passenger convenience," he said.
The BMTC's earlier attempt to lease private buses has failed. The private operator who leased buses to the NWKRTC has dragged it to the High Court of Karnataka.
"Cases are still going on as the operator has alleged that the corporation has paid him less. The NWKRTC, in turn, has highlighted gaps in the performance," a source said.
When asked about the failure of BMTC's previous attempts to lease the buses Ponnuraj said he was aware of the development.
"Factors that led to the failure of the BMTC's previous attempt have been taken into consideration. One of the main problems was allowing small operators to participate in the bidding. We have rectified these issues and expect a better deal," he said.
Lease model economical
The lease model is being seen as economical after a private company agreed to provide electric buses at Rs 37.50/km, which is lesser than the operational costs of Rs 54/km.
"We are not spending anything while leasing buses. We are focusing on ensuring that the model will benefit the corporation as well as the people," officials said.
Officials said about 1,000 buses will be scrapped over the next one year as they will clock 8.5 lakh kilometres or age beyond 11 years. The lease model is expected to fill the gap created by condemning these old buses.