In Next 3 Years, We Are Targeting To Have 2500 Electric Buses on Delhi Roads: Ashish Kundra, Principal Secretary, Govt of Delhi

In an exclusive interaction with Express Mobility, Ashish Kundra, Principal Secretary, Government of Delhi talked about the importance of integrated transportation systems, electric charging infrastructure and the role of CNG as fuel.

Ashish Kundra

To reduce pollution and congestion in the National Capital Region, the Delhi government is aggressively planning to procure and ply electric buses in the coming year. For this, the state has chalked out a plan to convert 50% of buses to electric by 2027. 

In an exclusive interaction with Express Mobility, Ashish Kundra, Principal Secretary, Government of Delhi talked about the importance of integrated transportation systems, electric charging infrastructure and the role of CNG as fuel. 

Edited excerpts:

In line with the current state of pollution and congestion, what is your vision for mobility in the national capital region?

I think in the next three to four years from now public transport in Delhi should go completely electric. Right now we have a fleet of about 6500 buses under DTC and cluster combined. All of them are running on CNG fuel and a large chunk of the DTC buses are at the end of their lifecycle. The plan is to replace these buses with electric. 

In fact, DTC has already submitted its interest in procuring 1500 buses as a part of the grand challenge floated by CESL. Similarly, on the cluster side, we have already prepared a plan for bids of 1000 electric buses. So in my expectations, in the next 24-36 months, we should be having 2500 electric buses which will be a substantial change in business as usual. 

DTC has already ordered 300 buses and by end of April, these buses will be inducted. A prototype bus has already arrived. 

The second important part of the story is congestion. Many people travel on their two-wheelers and four-wheelers. However, after the implementation of Metro things have changed but what we need to focus on is a modal shift for people using two-wheelers and four-wheelers. So that they start using buses. If you see the profile of the passengers in Metro and Buses there is a difference.

With modern electric buses, I guess people will get inspired and travel in them. 

So what is the target timeline for Delhi public transport to go fully electric?

As I mentioned before, in a three-year time frame, by 2025, we will have 2500 electric buses, which are on a base of 7,000 buses in Delhi. So roughly one-third of the fleet will be electric by 2025 and 50% by 2027 in rough estimations. 

It’s been more than one year since the Delhi government has announced its EV policy. What kind of impact have you seen on the ground?

Let’s look at the larger picture of electric mobility space. The government of India has given a lot of subsidies through FAME. The Delhi government was one of the first few states who notified purchase incentive schemes for people purchasing electric vehicles. However, last year due to COVID the overall vehicle sales were lower. But today if you look at electric vehicle numbers about 8% of vehicles registered in Delhi are electric. Further, if you do segment-wise analysis, earlier electric rickshaws use to dominate the sales. But now you can see electric two-wheelers sales have jumped drastically in January 2022 to 1700 units when compared to 200 units in January 2021. 

Another important trend which is emerging is that electric three-wheelers for transporting goods are also gaining momentum. One thing to note is that in Delhi NCR we saw a registration of 147 vehicles last month. So, we have come up with a framework that electric three-wheelers are now allowed in peak hours. With greater penetration of charging infrastructure, I am optimistic that two-wheelers and three-wheelers will gain momentum in the electric mobility space. 

In the three-wheeler space, we would be issuing permits for 4000 electric vehicles.  

What is your view on the integrated transportation system in Delhi to reduce the overall congestion on the road?

I think last mile connectivity is a crucial intervention that is required in Delhi. There are two things that we are trying to do that one is that we are trying to give some bulk permits to Delhi Metro for electric auto-rickshaws. The second is that we are trying to partner with Delhi Metro for improving the Metro feeder services. Delhi Metro has already inducted the first slot on their own so far electric buses which are connecting one metro station with the other, but I think a framework needs to be drawn up which kind of takes passengers from residential areas to the metro. So, the seamless connectivity between buses and metro and other means of mobility is a crucial requirement.

Another important part of electric mobility is charging infrastructure. About 65-70% of vehicles are parked on road. When we say electrification of the fleet, how do the people charge their vehicles?

Most of the people who commute within the city charge at home. But what we are doing is that we have floated a bid has been floated 400 locations for public charging infrastructure. And I think it is just in the final stages right and pretty soon, so, which includes metro stations, parking and all that and several other locations have been identified for creating public charging infrastructure.

The second is that we will respond corporations have also taken the initiative they are partnered with CESL and created the charging infrastructure. 

The third is that even the transport department DTC and on the cluster side are we have partnered with CESL for charging infrastructure in our depots and so, that is one set of things which is happening. 

The fourth is that there is a scheme which was launched, in which the Delhi government is subsidizing up to 6000 rupees per charging point for private charging infrastructure 30,000 charges.

The challenge is that in a city like Delhi real estate is the issue and we need to find creative solutions for that and you know, perhaps, went ahead something similar to the mobile towers where people can, who have their land at sector can lease out to charging companies and allow such facilities to be created.

Electric mobility is getting enough thrust from the government. Where do you CNG as a fuel stand right now?

Let’s be real about the CNG adoption, it happened due to the coat mandate 30 years back. So whether it is buses, auto-rickshaws, CNG everything took time because dispensing stations took time. The expectation was that it will gradually expand across the country. But in real terms, public transport in NCR has not switched to CNG and the excuse is that there are not enough charging stations

CNG of course is also a clean fuel and a good option, especially for inter-state mobility. I think public transport there should be a push for conversion to CNG buses and even the cars on maybe hybrid cars. But electric offers TCO advantage due to which cities like Mumbai have jumped from diesel buses to electric the CNG transition is gone. And the reason is that all you need is a charging station and you take power from the grid and that is the fuel. So, the solutions are simpler. The gestation period for transition is lesser and therefore, it is a good option.

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