The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation has requested the State Regional Transport Authority (RTO) to extend by two months the free trial period for the first-ever electric bus deployed in a city in India.
The Chinese BYD Company Ltd electric bus was acquired by the BMTC on a free trial agreement from Utopia earlier this year and began its trial runs in the city in March. The deadline for its two-month trial is set to expire at the end of May.
Impressed by the performance of the electric vehicle, the BMTC has sought an extension of trial before taking a decision on bulk purchases of the vehicle. In its trial runs, the electric bus, costing Rs. 2.7 crore per vehicle, has been operated on the central Kempegowda Bus Station to Kadugodi route and also on the KBS-ITPL routes.
“On an average, the bus runs six trips a day. This is approximately 60-65 km on a single charge without any hassle, produces less noise and on-board friction during the journey,” a BMTC official said.
The electric bus is said to have received positive reviews from commuters over its comfort, non-polluting features and ambience. The bus, according to the BMTC however, costs higher than regular fuel vehicles like the Volvos, Marco Polos and other luxury models that is attached to the city transport corporation.
The BMTC is seeking the permission of the regional transport authority since the electric bus is yet to be approved by the Automotive Research Association of India. “As of now, the bus is delivering 169 km per charge but we want to observe the vehicle after 90 days of exhaustive operations. That would give us a better idea on its road efficiency,” the BMTC official said.
Acknowledging the request, transport commissioner K Amarnarayana said the department is examining the BMTC request and a decision would be taken soon.
The bus is touted as India’s first zero-emissions urban public transport vehicle. It is powered by BYD’s non-toxic iron-phosphate batteries. The company has claimed the bus can travel over 250 km on a single charge irrespective of traffic. While the cost is seen as being on the steep side, BMTC officials are hoping that in the long run the savings on fossil fuel and environmental damage will offset the cost of the bus.