Office-goers travelling to Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) from Bandra and Kurla stations may soon travel more comfortably to their workplaces in air-conditioned hybrid buses, expected to hit the streets in June. “The buses are in the final stages of manufacturing and should be ready to begin operations by June,” confirmed a senior Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) official.
Costing Rs1.61 crore each, 25 buses have been ordered by MMRDA from Tata Motors. Eight are expected to be operational in BKC next month onwards. The battery-operated buses will be charged using a diesel engine on-board and it will not require to be charged overnight.
“Unlike fully electric buses these ones do not have to be charged overnight and will be charged by a diesel engine while it is running. It will be a continuous process. This is not only environment-friendly but is also a cheaper alternative,” said a senior BEST official.
The official said battery-operated buses are cheaper to run and maintain but the initial cost involved in purchasing it is three times the cost of regular buses. While it will be procured by the MMRDA, the buses will be operated by the BEST and the fares will be the same as regular AC buses. To be painted yellow, the buses will be at par with international bus manufacturers like Volvo and Scania and will have features like WiFi connectivity, in-bus entertainment, charging points, GPS tracker and CCTV cameras, officials said.
“We recently gave out a contract for in-bus entertainment and WiFi, so we can provide it in these buses as well. For the GPS tracker we will soon launch an app using which people will know when the next bus is coming. These buses will be noiseless and the commuters will not feel any vibrations,” said the official.
Equipped with automatic doors and low-suspension tilting floors, the bus will be disabled-friendly. It will have no gears and the driver will operate it with only accelerator and brake. It will also be provided with conductor-less technology and automatic fare collection facility.
“The bus entrances will be provided with a ramp to provide easy access for disabled persons. Since the bus has a lot of new technology BEST drivers will have to be specially trained to operate them,” added the MMRDA official.
The bus has been in the pipelines since 2013 and has missed several deadlines in the last few months. Speaking about the delay, the MMRDA official said, “This is the first time that a hybrid bus is being manufactured in India and it took time to complete all the technical procedures for its manufacturing.”