Jammuities, get ready to travel in electric buses

Recently, there was quite a buzz about a fleet of electric buses received by the J&K Transport Department. Since vehicular buses are a major source of pollution thus such efforts made by the government were happily welcomed by the citizenry. First and foremost, electric buses will help in tackling the unnecessary rising level of pollution and secondly, it will also upgrade the local transport system.

Although, replacing conventional buses with electric ones is a futuristic move yet, for now, the authorities have decided to bring in only 20 buses each for Jammu and Kashmir division. These electric buses have been procured by J&K State Road Transport Corporation from Tata Motors under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme. As per the scheme, 60 percent of the cost of these buses had to be borne by the Centre while the rest 40 percent had to be paid by the state government.

The present scheme FAME India I (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid) and Electric Vehicles was launched on April 1, 2015, with a total outlay of Rs 895 crore. But, recently, the Union Cabinet has cleared a Rs 10,000-crore programme under the FAME-II scheme. The scheme will be implemented over a period of three years with effect from April 1, 2019.

With this, the Centre government is aiming at mass adoption of electric vehicles by 2030 but with the vision that such policies must be supplemented with measures such as domestic manufacturing of vehicles, batteries, and components, etc. Since with EV penetration in India currently at just 1 percent, FAME alone is not enough to reach the 2030 target. Thus, the government has issued new guidelines in which all-electric vehicle and hybrid manufacturers were told to localize the manufacturing of wheel rims integrated with hub motor from 1 October 2019.

The guidelines stated that in order to qualify for subsidies under a government scheme, the manufacturers will have to locally build the Control units, chargers and AC units among a slew of components required for electric and hybrid vehicles which will also encourage the adoption of such vehicles.

Jammu Links News team reached out to Amit Sharma Special Secretary, Transport Department, regarding the induction of electric buses into the transport fleet. He told that each bus costs around 60-70 lakh and is manufactured by a Tata Motors Plant. Having the first-hand experience of touring in the electric bus during one of the trials done in Jammu, he said, the bus offers comfort and has around 30-32 seats equipped with the latest technology which will provide a great experience to the people.

These electric buses would work on fast charging process wherein after a full charge within 2 to 3 hours would help the bus to cover around 150 kilometers on a single charge. Powered by fast charging lithium batteries, the bus can run easily for 8-10 hours in the city area, depending on the traffic conditions. But, in order to cater to the people residing in far-off places, more charging stations will have to be installed on highways. Currently, there is only one charging point available near Jammu Railway Station but the department is aiming to build more in the near future.

Special Secretary, Transport Department told that these electric buses would run commercially when the registration process would be finished with the RTO Department for which the Tata Motors team will soon be visiting Jammu.

When asked about the bus fare, he said," The transport authorities will not put the burden on the customers so the charges would be nominal only. We are aiming to extend maximum benefits to the commuters."

He further said, "The Tata Motors also has the responsibility of training the JKSRTC drivers before the electric buses are put into operation. So, the training sessions will be conducted soon for the mechanical staff to properly handle the buses."

He spoke at length regarding the benefits of these zero-emission vehicles to be introduced in Jammu and also expressed hope for the use of these buses in full-fledged commercial manner.

With the advent of technology, people living in big developed cities are enjoying smart lighting, smart waste management, better surveillance, smart traffic management, and more such benefits, but we Jammuities are yet to witness the wonders of living in a smart city. So, with this initiative, we hope that the authorities will keep working on more such plans so that an ideal and efficient ecosystem can be achieved in Jammu city.


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Hardeep Bali