In a bid to facilitate better last-mile connectivity and transportation services to rural and outer parts of the national capital, the AAP-led Delhi government has planned to procure around 2,300 nine-metre-long mini electric buses, christened “rural feeders”.
According to a senior government official, the buses will be brought out under the FAME-II scheme through Convergence Energy Services Limited. “Delhi has plans to buy 6,300 electric buses for its public transport fleet, of these 2,300 will be low-floor buses, which will run on 172 routes in rural areas, villages and outer parts of the city where the frequency of standard buses is currently limited,” said the official.
At present, the city has around 700 nine-metre-long buses that ply 72 routes. The Delhi government, a few years ago, conducted a route rationalisation study to analyse the number of routes, buses currently plying, the need for more buses, utilisation of standard and low-floor buses, area, location, etc.
“In the study, it was found that a large part of the city, especially rural, outer and densely populated areas, need more minibuses instead of standard buses. Towards this end, the transport department, which earlier planned 11,000 buses for Delhi, decided to bring down the number of standard buses and buy about 2,300 mini e-buses to cater to the people with a bus at 5 to 10 minutes frequency,” said an official.
As per the route rationalisation study, a large number of people from the lower and middle classes use the minibuses. The department has approved the route rationalisation study and the trial basis will start on October 2.
Besides rural areas, these minibuses will be deployed for last-mile connectivity and at Metro stations. “Some of the buses will be deployed at Metro stations where e-rickshaws and bus connectivity are limited and will be called metro feeders,” said an official.
Officials said the transport department has sent a request to the CESL for procuring 6,300 buses. “Tenders will be floated for about 4,000 buses soon. Under the FAME II scheme, the government, besides chipping in itself, gets subsidies for buses from the Centre. The Delhi government later pays the private players, who deliver the buses, on a per km basis for the running cost. It further provides electric bus depot and charging infrastructure support to the buses,” said officials.
Officials said they have also requested CESL to buy around 2,000 buses more on GCC/hybrid dry lease mode so it can keep its own DTC drivers and conductors for operating these buses. E-buses that currently ply in the city have DTC conductors but drivers are provided by the concessionaire.
Currently, Delhi has added 250 e-buses to its fleet and 1500 more buses will be added in 2023. The Delhi government aims to push for only e-buses and CM Arvind Kejriwal recently said that 80 per cent of the whole fleet will be electric by 2025.