Indian cities are pursuing ambitious plans to introduce electric buses into their fleets, with support from Government of India’s (GoI) Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme and other state and city level schemes. Cities are faced with numerous challenges during the course of planning and procurement of these electric buses. Towards addressing some of these challenges, International Association of Urban Transport (UITP), supported by Association of State Road Transport Undertaking (ASRTU) and Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation (SSEF) organised a training program on ‘Planning and Procurement of Electric Buses’ in Bangalore between February 11 and 12, 2019. The event was hosted by Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC).
The training programme brought together more than 60 participants representing 30 organisations comprising of State Transport Undertakings, Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) managing city buses, manufacturers, think-tanks and consultants. Indian and International experts with extensive experience in electric bus sector delivered lectures on a wide range of planning and procurement issues. Mr. Jen Fongers (Fongers Folio B. V., Netherlands), Dr. Ray Minjares (ICCT), Dr. Nikit Abhyankar (LBNL) and Mr. C K Goyal (DIMTS) together covered the following topics: The areas covered during the technical sessions of the program were the following:
- Different configurations and innovations in electric bus technology and various case studies across the world
- Techno-economic analysis of electric buses
- Comparison between alternative soot free bus technologies
- Various concepts in tender procedure, different types of business models and strategies for bus procurement, key areas for tender harmonisation, various tender evaluation methods and risks management involved in tender process.
- The key factors and guidelines to be considered for establishment of charging infrastructure
- Concepts on outright purchase model and Gross Cost Contract (GCC) model
- Operational planning challenges in electric bus implementation like surplus fleet requirement to provide equivalent diesel bus service
- Charging infrastructure planning for electric buses
- Barriers faced and proposed solutions for the implementation of 1,000 electric buses in Delhi
The programme also covered a discussion on the recommendations for the upcoming phase II of the FAME scheme. The following were some of the key points highlighted by the audience:
- City selection: The level of pollution in the city and previous efforts towards implementing electric buses should also be considered while subsidy allocation
- Subsidy criteria: The energy efficiency of the bus/ battery needs to be a key parameter along with the size of the battery in deciding the quantum of subsidy
- FAME II should also allocate a certain amount of subsidy for research, development and innovations for the electric bus technology in addition to implementation subsidies
- Various Public Sector Undertakings (PSU) can play an active role in providing infrastructure for electric bus deployment. For example NTPC limited (India) is currently supporting Bhopal Smart City to provide charging infrastructure.
- Government of India may provide capital subsidy for fixed assets like buses, charging infrastructure etc. while the State Governments can provide reciprocal subsidies through lower tariff on electricity to reduce operating cost of the electric buses
- In addition to the upfront capital subsidy, making low interest financing available to cities is likely to scale up electric bus deployment sooner
- The charging infrastructure should ideally be developed as an interoperable system across bus manufacturers. However, the cost of switching between charging infra technologies may not be very high
Overall, the sessions generated active discussions among participants and addressed many apprehensions cities had on electric bus deployment. UITP will engage further on these topics by engaging with GoI to share the feedback received on the FAME incentive. The UITP Tender Structure document will also be used to provide guidelines to Indian cities for their future electric bus tenders.