The latest Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicle (FAME) notification discusses aggregation of demand for electric buses in 9 cities of India. At a time when public bus agencies are struggling to identify resources for fleet augmentation, central and state subsidies have been helpful in driving electric bus adoption in the country. The subsidies for electric buses have been instrumental in not only scaling up clean public transport, but also add to the overall public transport supply in cities.
The conversation on electric buses has opened a whole new avenue for bus-based public transport in India. A transition to electric buses requires a complete reimagining of bus system as opposed to operations of Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) buses. Consideration of multiple factors such as battery sizing, siting of charging infrastructure, route planning, charging infrastructure scheduling, etc. is required for electric bus planning.
Cities like Santiago have proved that a scaled transition to electric buses is possible and provides benefits in the form of saving in operations and engine maintenance costs to the tune of 70% as compared to diesel buses. In India, electric buses can be utilized to enhance public transport planning with improved Standard Operating Procedures. Incorporation of electric buses within existing fleet requires extensive route planning, which can be coupled with demand forecasting and spatial planning to rationalize urban bus operations. Savings accrued from electric bus operations can be channeled to improved passenger services. Therefore, this transition can be used as an opportunity for a holistic upgrade of bus-based public transport in India.