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Time to shift to electric KSRTC buses to save fuel bills, panel tells Karnataka CM

Panel report recommended Karnataka government to reduce the number of diesel vehicles so as to bring down fuel cost by more than 50 per cent

The Karnataka government has ordered an aid of Rs 1,059 crore to four road transport corporations. (File Photo)

With fuel prices skyrocketing, the panel, which has studied the financial situation of various Road Transport Corporations (RTCs) of Karnataka has recommended to the government to make a gradual shift to electric vehicles and reduce the number of diesel vehicles so as to reduce the cost by more than 50 per cent.

In a report submitted by retired IAS officer M R Sreenivasa Murthy to Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai Tuesday, the panel has stated there is little scope for improving fuel efficiency with current technology, and that the increase in fuel costs during a period of six years (between 2013-14 and 2019-20) incurred an expense of Rs 321 crore, which amounts to 13 percent of the costs of the RTCs.

The report which has been accessed by The Indian Express says that the RTC’s outstanding liabilities are about Rs 4,426 crore as on March this year, and the pending fuel bills are Rs 837 crore.

There are about 24,000 buses in Karnataka which includes 6,700 Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) buses that are plying in Bengaluru. Karnataka has the highest number of state-owned buses in the country with 36 buses per lakh population, followed by Andhra Pradesh (26.5), Tamil Nadu (28.4), Maharatshtra (22.8) and Kerala (16.9) for every one lakh people.

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The state runs four RTCs, namely the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), North Western Karnataka Road Transport Corporation, Kalyana Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (KKRTC) and Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC).

The panel stated that the RTCs are at an inflection point, post-Covid-19 in the recommendations. It said that the operating cost per km of electric buses will be 50 per cent of the diesel buses and the operating cost of electric buses is Rs 43.49 per kilometer, which is lower than the operating cost of BS IV diesel buses.

The report which focused on long-term solutions said that at least 50 per cent of the future procurements by RTC need to be electric buses.

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The report said, “Gross Cost Contract (GCC) model is recommended for electric buses. The BMTC is operating 90 buses and has contracted another 300 buses. The BMTC may be supported with a matching subsidy for 579 buses, which did not receive FAME II subsidy.”

It stated that there needs to be cost reduction in fuel costs as the prices have shot up in recent years. The RTCs spent Rs 3,467 crore out of the total cost of Rs 10,686 crore on fuel. It means, 32 per cent of the total costs of the operations were spent on fuels and BMTC spent 27 per cent and KSRTC spent 35 per cent.

The total fuel expenses of the RTCs have fluctuated from Rs 3,146 crore in 2013-14 to Rs 2,629 crore in 2015-16 and again to Rs 3,620 crore in 2018-19. Fuel prices have doubled in the last five years from Rs 46 per litre to Rs 89 (retail) and Rs 120 per litre (bulk). The report also cited that Tamil Nadu RTCs pay a benchmark price of Rs 62 per litre with the state government absorbing any price increase.

First published on: 20-07-2022 at 14:58 IST
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