Union Minister Prakash Javdekar announced 670 new electric buses for the state of Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, and Chandigarh from his twitter account on 25th September 2020. Among these, 240 E-buses are allocated to Maharashtra, from which 40 and 100 E-buses are allotted for Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) and Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport (NMMT) respectively.
The other 100 buses are allocated to MSRTC Under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing Electric and Hybrid vehicles (FAME) scheme, the centre is providing 60 per cent subsidy for electric and CNG buses. In December 2019 NMMT decided to add another 100 e-buses to its fleet. Now in September 2020, the project is finally sanctioned.
“Though the centre has allocated the buses, the long procedure of tendering has remained, so the buses will be on-road by next year,” said Shirish Aradwad, NMMT general manager. NMMT already has a fleet of 30 e-buses, which started their services from October 2019; the buses are serving to connect Navi Mumbai, Thane, and the city of Mumbai. For example, the 127 number bus of NMMT, which is an electric bus, connects Vashi Railway station to Ghatkopar Railway station which is two major destinations for daily commuters.
The 30 e-buses, which are right now in NMMT’s fleet, are by JBM and Solaris. JBM Auto Ltd Is an Indian Company specialising in electric buses while Solaris is a European auto manufacturer. The e-buses can travel up to 225 km in one charge with a capacity of 35 passengers.
“The overall experience of e-buses is good, as they drive smoothly, but drivers need more training. They have experience in driving the regular buses and are yet to get accustomed to the e-buses,” said Manish Koparkar, the vice president of Navi Mumbai Pravasi Sangh. But, he added that these buses should be introduced on more routes.
“We get requests and demands that the e-buses should be available in all of Navi Mumbai more frequently. Right now the buses are majorly commuting through Vashi, Koparkherne and also inter-city, from Navi Mumbai to Mumbai and Thane,” he added.
The e-buses are major relief from the city’s pollution, as they operate on zero emissions. Though the NMMT’s new buses will be in service from next year, the already available fleet is winning the heart of citizens. “The e-buses are better than normal buses, as they do not emit any gases on the street, I travel one or two times a week to Andheri, and I prefer e-buses, for a senior citizen like me, E-buses are more comfortable than normal ones,” said Rajendra Duse, 61, a resident of Vashi.