The Transport Department has floated tenders to procure 25 electric buses to be operated by the Puducherry Road Transport Corporation (PRTC), under a public-private partnership (PPP) mode. This is the first tender for electric buses, which will be operated in urban areas, under the Smart City project.
The Department has called for tenders from Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) and operators for the procurement and operation of 25 (10 AC and 15 Non-AC) nine-metre-long electric buses and the establishment of allied infrastructure including charging stations in the city.
According to a senior official, “The government has sanctioned ₹23 crores as initial seed funding under the Smart City project in the first phase for the procurement of 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 according to the bid document, the selected 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 cost of the buses.
PRTC will be responsible for the fare notification and collection, 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 and maintenance 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.
Official sources said PRTC has a fleet strength of 80 buses and the average diesel consumption worked out to be 5,750 litres per day. The 25 electric buses would help save about 1,800 litres per day and reduce carbon emissions significantly. The buses are also noise and pollution-free and provide trustworthy public transport. Authorities feel that it is feasible to introduce electric buses given the diesel costs.
Another 25 electric buses for inter-state routes
The Transport Department has also sent a request to Convergence Energy Services Limited (CESL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) for 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, while the 9-metre buses will have a 200 km range and seating capacity of 35.
The Puducherry Government has identified two locations in the city for the establishment of charging stations for electric buses.