Association of State Road Transport Undertakings (ASRTU) and Bengalore Metropolitan Transport Corproation (BMTC) jointly organised "Electric Bus Stakeholders Dialogue" on 21 December 2017 in Bengaluru, Karnataka. The key win from the workshop is that all key stakeholders came together i.e. bus manufacturers, STUs from cities looking for e-buses Bangalore, Mumbai, Jaipur, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh charging infra providers were all together to debate the challenges facing electric bus deployment in India. At the end of it, there were more questions than answers, which is an indicator of a good debate!
The following are some of the key points for the sector to work upon for rapid deployment of e-buses:
i) Contracting: Both ASRTU and manufacturers highlighted the need for standardizing specs for e-buses and cities asking for similar vehicles to bring down costs. Currently, different STUs ask for different specs on diesel buses and hence the costs have gone up. Preparing a similar contracting framework and vehicle specs is needed to avoid a repetition of the issue for electric buses.
ii) Lease model: Various options of procurement and leasing were discussed. Given the limited capacity of STUs in raising high fresh capital needed for e-buses, leasing was presented as a good alternative. Within leasing, STUs may consider full lease or procuring the bus without batteries and leasing out the battery provision and upkeep.
iii) Product availability: Bus manufacturers are still working upon their models and indicated a 6months to 1 year time required for deployment.
iv) Pilot projects: Ashok leyland offered to give 30 free e-buses for APSRTC to be operated in Vijayawada and Tirupati. (There are other similar pilots by Uber in Hyderabad and Ola in Nagpur for cars. It may be a good idea for interested partners to record the findings from this pilot and share it with the community).
v) Charging Infrastructure: Charging infra specs are key for various manufacturers to operate in a single city as the infra should be inter-operable for all of them. The BIS committee in charge of this should incorporate all vehicle/charging methods.