The Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) is mulling the idea of introducing electric buses on some routes in order to save on exorbitant fuel costs.
According to information, with the surge in fuel costs, the APSRTC is looking for alternative options to bring down operational costs. Authorities feel that it is ‘feasible to run’ the electric buses given the diesel costs. The APSRTC is likely to introduce around 150 electric buses on routes across the State.
The move assumes significance in the wake of the government’s decision in November last year to drop its plans of procuring 350 electric buses as the costs were working out to be too high. In the same month, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) requested the government to introduce the electric buses in Tirumala to maintain the holy hills as a ‘zero carbon emission zone’.
When contacted, APSRTC Vice-Chairman and Managing Director (VC&MD) R.P. Thakur has confirmed that the APSRTC has sent a proposal to the government recently and that a decision is awaited. In view of rising fuel costs, the APSRTC is examining all options such as bio-diesel, CNG and electric buses.
“It is feasible to ply electric buses between Tirupati and Tirumala,” he said.
A litre of diesel used to cost Rs. 67 in March 2020. Now, it has crossed Rs. 82 per litre. The RTC has to shell out about Rs.2100 crore (as per 2019) on diesel alone. The fares have not been revised since then. The gap between revenue and expenditure was widening due to factors including diesel, salaries, etc. The situation has worsened due to the Covid. Consequently, the RTC was availing bank loans to manage the show. The employee liabilities, including PF, gratuity etc., and loans stand at Rs. 6,000 crore, he points out.
Mr. Thakur said that the APSRTC was taking many steps to make the Corporation profitable. A total revamp of the cargo services, fully operating buses in Telangana State, 10% concession in AC bus fare to early birds (48 hours advanced reservation), early darshan at Tirumala, AC buses between Anantapur and Hyderabad, increasing punctuality—both arrival and departure, and reintroducing hire buses were some of the measures. The APSRTC plans to introduce end-to-end cargo services and targets a revenue of ₹300 crore as against the existing ₹100 crore, he said.