Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) is gearing up to significantly boost its electric bus fleet, aiming to increase it from around 400 to 1,751 vehicles, marking an impressive 3.5-fold surge.
Presently, BMTC operates 390 electric buses as part of the Smart City Project and FAME-2 initiative of the central government. The corporation is in motion to add 921 more e-buses following the same model by the end of this fiscal year. Additionally, plans are underway to introduce 320 low-floor AC electric buses. Moreover, BMTC is contemplating the inclusion of 120 electric buses as feeder services for Namma Metro.
Among the additions, there will be ten double-decker e-buses. Upon the induction of these buses, BMTC’s fleet is expected to surpass 7,500 vehicles, with over 20% being electric buses provided by private operators under a leasing arrangement.
Under the Gross Cost Contract (GCC) model, none of the e-buses will be owned by the corporation. Private operators, leveraging government subsidies, will lease the buses to BMTC for a duration of 10 to 12 years. Operational expenses are covered on a per-km basis by the corporation, while conductors are provided by BMTC, and the operators employ drivers.
However, operational disruptions occurred previously when drivers, hired by private operators, protested over delayed salary payments and social security issues, affecting the e-bus services temporarily.
Addressing the concerns, BMTC MD G Sathyavathi highlighted challenges faced by consortia operating under the GCC model. She assured the imposition of penalties for discrepancies and emphasized ongoing dialogue to resolve staff-related issues.
Minister Ramalinga Reddy expressed the view that road transport corporations should directly utilize subsidies to operate electric buses, advocating for ownership of vehicles to be vested with the corporations. He highlighted the flexibility in scheduling operations if BMTC owned the fleet, addressing dynamic requirements more effectively