Fame 2 project rekindles KSRTC's electric bus dream

Transport corporations will get help to ply e-bus between million-plus population cities. DH File Photo

The launch phase of Faster Adoption of Electric Vehicles (Fame 2) scheme has given new hope for KSRTC, which plans to deploy 50 buses from Bengaluru to five cities.

In July 2018, Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) made a presentation to Fame officials in Delhi, seeking subsidy for purchase of 50 electric buses.

“The proposal was rejected as Fame 1 did not support inter-city transport. Several state road transport corporations (SRTCs) had the same experience.

“However, officials had assured us that they will take up the proposal in the next phase of the scheme,” an official with KSRTC said.

Fame 2 will partially fund electric buses procured on lease model by SRTCs, transporting people between cities. Corporations will get help to ply e-bus between million-plus population cities.

“The electric buses have a range of 300 km and KSRTC connects five or six cities within that range. We are getting the details of population and travel needs of five cities and will send a detailed proposal soon,” the official said.

Buses will run between Bengaluru and Mysuru, Tumakuru, Kolar, Chitradurga and Davangere. Officials recently held a meeting in which the issue was discussed threadbare. The general opinion is to go for buses that can run up to 400 km on a single charge.

Lease model

As per the scheme’s specifications, KSRTC will have to procure the buses on lease, instead of purchase model.

“We will call for tenders for a lease similar to that of BMTC last year. The operator who quotes the lowest per-km rate will be picked. The successful bidder gets a subsidy from the Centre, which ranges from about Rs 55 lakh for a large e-bus to Rs 30 lakh to a mini e-bus,” he said.

KSRTC will deploy a conductor and pay the operator per-km. It will also bridge gaps in revenue.

Charging stations will be set up in the five cities. However, it has decided not to opt for battery swapping technology (replacing used  battery with a charged one kept as reserve). “Only 20% of manufacturers make buses with swapping technology. Hence, opting for the swapping model will reduce the bidding competition and deny us a good deal,” an official said.

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