The Puducherry Transport Department has issued a Letter of Intent (LoI) to a private firm to supply, operate and maintain 25 electric buses and establish allied infrastructure, including charging stations, in the city.
The letter was issued after a tendering process, and final approval from the government,
Official sources said the private firm had also issued a Letter of Acceptance (LoA) and an agreement would be executed within 15 days.
This company already operates electric buses in various cities and the prototype of the first electric bus is expected to be supplied in 45 days. The State Transport Department will check whether the prototype meets all requirements and technical specifications, following which the Puducherry government is expected to give its nod to its ambitious plan to switch to green mobility in the Union Territory.
According to a Transport Department official, “The electric buses are expected to hit the roads in the next 3 months. The buses will arrive in batches and will have a separate colour scheme. The 25 buses (10 AC and 15 Non-AC) will be 9-metre buses. In June, the U.T. administration tested the Proof of Concept ( POC) of an electric bus from the selected private firm. A weight of 1,750 kg was put on the buses and based on the report of an inspection team, a decision was taken to issue the LoI to initiate the purchase of the buses.”
Funding under Smart City project
The government has sanctioned ₹23 crore as initial seed funding under the Smart City project in the first phase for the procurement of the buses, which will ply on 15 tentative routes within urban areas. The buses will be operated under a viability gap funding model.”
The official added that the operator will establish charging stations and allied infrastructure with annual fleet-level guaranteed operations of 200 km per day per bus, for a period of 12 years. The operator is to foot the electricity cost and all maintenance costs of the buses.
The Puducherry Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) or Puducherry Urban Transport Agency (PUTA) will be responsible for the fare collection and passenger tax on tickets, while all other permissions and clearances including registration, insurance, stage carrier permit, Motor Vehicle Tax, and GST on kilometre charges will be borne by the operator, according to the bid document.
An escrow account will also be created and all revenue generated and the income accruing from the operation of the buses will be deposited into the account. This would help in rationalising the prices that would be paid on a per kilometre usage.
Two charging points for buses
According to officials, the battery-operated buses have a life of 6-7 years and cover over 200 km in one charge. It takes around six hours to charge the buses. The Puducherry government has identified two locations in the city for establishment of charging infrastructure for electric buses.
In addition, the Transport Department had also sent a request to Convergence Energy Services Limited (CESL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) for the procurement of 25 (12-metre-long) electric buses for operation on inter-State routes.
“CESL had sent a request to all States on the requirement for electric buses. The unified tender constitutes the aggregate demand of all States,” an official said. These electric buses will operate on a high-powered battery with a range of up to 250 km and a seating capacity of 40.