With electric buses KTC gets opportunity for a long jump
The Kadamba Transport Corporation is going to introduce 30 electric buses on April 1. These buses are expected to reduce cost and help the KTC begin to bridge the colossal income-expenditure gap it has perennially suffered. The buses are 12-metre long and air-conditioned. They were flagged off by Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Prakash Javadekar in a virtual fashion last week. The buses are sanctioned by the central government as a part of the national programme to reduce consumption of petroleum fuels and pollution, apart from helping the state transport corporations, which are usually making losses, to bring down their operating costs. The central government sanctioned 50 buses of 12-metre length in December 2019 and 100 of 9-metre length in June 2020. The KTC will put into operation 30 of the 50 buses of 12-metre length and the remaining ones over the next few months. The introduction of electric buses would reduce carbon emissions and provide better amenities to the commuting public and should be welcomed by Goans who have never failed in demonstrating their robust consciousness for the protection of the environment.
From a few dozens of buses at the time of Liberation, Goa has come a long way to expand public transport to meet the needs of its growing population. There are over 2,300 buses registered in the state. However, they are not adequate for the state.Of them, 1700 (including 1,200 private and 500 of the KTC) are operating on various intrastate and interstate routes. The KTC’s electric buses are bound to be sought after by people, especially in hot and humid summer as, unlike other KTC buses, they will be air-conditioned. Of course, in the first phase only people commuting on the routes in which the electric buses would be introduced would get the benefit. Let us hope the KTC gets more such buses at the earliest, so the benefit reaches out to more and more Goans.
The electric buses will help the KTC save money on the repair and maintenance of its old buses as well as on fuel whose prices have been skyrocketing owing to the central government’s policy of cutting down on the subsidies. Hopefully the comfortable electric buses would be preferred by people and help the KTC earn more revenue per trip. The KTC management has to take care that the buses are maintained well and are kept roadworthy, unlike in the cases of diesel-run buses a number of which were out of operation for repair and maintenance. Bringing the diesel-run buses back into operation took an indefinite time which added to KTC losses. There have been allegations that maintenance of KTC buses was a source of corruption to certain sections in the corporation. Let us hope those sections do not do the same thing with the electric buses.
As the KTC begins to operate electric buses, the management has to equip every terminal with a charging station with uninterrupted power supply. The KTC must also fix fare for the electric buses that meet their running costs and earn it profits. It is time the KTC management also increased the fare on the diesel-run buses to match the soaring oil prices. It is true that as an organisation committed to providing cheaper public sector transport to the people the KTC has to cater to the needs of rural areas and other routes which private bus operators shun. But that should not mean that the KTC should not make the commuters on those routes pay a little more.
All safeguards should be put in place to prevent loss of revenue in course of operation of the electric buses. As electric buses have limited capacity to run on long distance routes, the KTC will have to operate them on certain intrastate or interstate routes as it explores how to expand their use. The operation of electric buses by the KTC could invite the envy of private bus owners and there could be attempts to sabotage their operations in one way or the other. It is for the KTC and the government to make electric buses a success.