The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation’s (MSRTC) plans to start an air-conditioned and electric bus service has not taken off yet, as the infrastructural work for the service has been delayed further due to the lockdown.
The buses, branded as ‘Shivai’, were scheduled to start their operations between Pune and nearby big cities such as Kolhapur and Nashik, among other major cities.
In June last year, MSRTC had acquired 50 e-buses under the first phase of FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles) India scheme.
Last month, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar had announced sanctioning of 670 electric buses in Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat and Chandigarh under Phase-2 of the FAME India scheme. Of these, 240 buses were sanctioned for Maharashtra and 100 of these were earmarked for the MSRTC.
However, given the slow pace at which infrastructural work — laying of electric lines and installation of charging stations, among others — has progressed since June 2019, it is unlikely that these buses will hit the road anytime soon.
“The work was supposed to start a few months ago but due to the lack of requisite clearance from various regulatory bodies and imposition of lockdown in March, it could not progress. We are starting the work this month and it’s expected to take two to three months,” said a senior MSRTC official.
In June 2019, the transport body had conducted a trial run between Pune and Mumbai. It was decided that the buses will operate between destinations that are less than 300 km apart as, once fully charged, these buses can cover a distance of 300 km, said officials of the transport body.
MSRTC has decided to provide the buses to depots in Pune, Nashik, Aurangabad, Kolhapur and Mumbai in the first phase. The Pune Division of MSRTC had decided to run the service on Pune-Kolhapur and Pune-Nashik routes initially.
“On Pune-Kolhapur route, Swargate depot will operate six buses while Kolhapur will have another six. On Pune-Nashik route, we will operate nine buses while Nashik will operate the same number of buses. The schedule of the these buses will be adjusted with the Shiv Shahi service as both of these are luxury, air-conditioned services,” said an official.
As part of efforts to switch to more environment-friendly initiatives, the central and state governments are trying to opt for more electricity-operated vehicles. MSRTC, which plies buses across the state, currently owns nearly 20,000 diesel buses.
Recently, the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited has acquired as many as 150 e-buses and is in the process of acquiring more.
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