Delhi Transport Corporation introducing Electric buses to fight Pollution

The prospect of significantly lower operational expenses has the Delhi Transport Corporation veering towards the idea of replacing at least a part of its CNG fleet with electric buses.

Four months after the agency loaned one such bus from a Chinese company on a trial basis, an internal DTC report has concluded that its overall cost of operation is much lower than a CNG-run bus due to "very low maintenance/repair cost". Zero emission and lower manpower requirement are two other features that have impressed DTC.

The operational cost of the electric bus was found to be Rs 17.25/km. In contrast, a CNG AC bus costs DTC Rs 18.54 per km. A senior government official said, "On average, the electric bus ran 250km on a single charge." It consumed 27,368 units in the four-month period, which comes to an average unit rate of Rs 10.66 for the 16,915km it covered.

The price of CNG in the capital currently stands at Rs 35.59/kg. A CNG bus gives a mileage of 1.95km/kg and also requires higher maintenance. "The low-floor buses are under an annual maintenance contract with the manufacturer. The corporation pays Rs 3.5-12 a km. The rate increases every year," said the official quoted above.

The bus didn't report any breakdown during the trial, largely because there's no engine or transmission system. Only the battery needs maintenance.

The DTC, of course, will need to invest a hefty amount to begin with, as one bus will cost more than Rs 2 crore. But the official said: "The buses, when available commercially, will cost approximately the same their CNG counterparts. They will basically be assembled in India." A CNG bus costs around Rs 70-80 lakh. Interestingly, under a central scheme, the purchase of electric bus is subsidised.