With a gradual shift from diesel to CNG and electric buses mooted to rein in operational costs to turnaround the loss-making utility, the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation is expected to take a call soon on establishing infrastructure, including charging points at its depots.
Emphasis will also have to be given to preventive maintenance of buses and pacts with startups and other firms for annual maintenance contract, to lessen life-cycle cost.
The KSRTC, which has charging stations at an average distance of 100 km, will have to increase the number of charging stations, even as it begins generating electricity by installing rooftop solar power plants at bus depots, official sources said.
Creating a dedicated special purpose vehicle with the Kerala State Electricity Board and ANERT to operate electric buses and collaborating with KSRTC’s SCT College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram, in areas such as data analytics, trip scheduling, and fleet maintenance will pay dividends.
e-buses will have considerably low wear and tear since they have negligible number of moving parts vis a vis diesel buses, further decreasing operational cost. It goes without saying that e-buses do not cause air and sound pollution either, they added.
Experts have suggested introducing buses with minimum number of batteries to operate within cities or between neighbouring districts as it will reduce capital expenses on buses, with the cost of batteries constituting about 40% of the cost of a bus, it is learnt.
A few stakeholders having expertise in e-mobility are in discussions with the KSRTC to convert diesel buses to e-buses, rein in operational expenses, and lessen the carbon footprint of bus operations. “Already, the KSRTC has begun making optimal use of its old buses by converting them into restrooms for its crew and as a low-cost accommodation option for tourists visiting locales such as Munnar. Buses in good condition can be converted to e-buses, in a phased manner, for sustainable and long-term gains,” said Sibi Mathai, MD of a firm which maintains the Volvo fleet of the KSRTC and a few other RTCs.