Mumbai, India’s entertainment capital, is expanding its fleet of London-style red double-decker buses when they made their debut – this time in the form of electric vehicles.
The first of the 200 new buses from Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) is expected to start service on Mumbai’s busy roads from December, adding to the nearly 400 single-floor EVs already in operation. Two new electric buses, including the country’s first air-conditioned double-decker bus, joined BEST’s fleet on Thursday.
India – home to 1.4 billion people – is the world’s third largest carbon emitter, and the government has promised to reach net-zero emissions by 2070.
The campaign to electrify public transport is driven by the need to reduce pollution in cities with some of the worst air in the world.
The electric bus was developed by Switch Mobility, a branch of the Indian auto manufacturer Ashok Leyland.
A similar electric double decker manufactured by the company was rolled out in London in 2014.
“We want the masses to use electric mobility and achieve our goals of net-zero,” Switch Mobility India chief executive Mahesh Babu told AFP on Thursday at the unveiling of the new fleet.
In a press release, India’s Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said, “There is a need to transform the country’s transport system from a long-term perspective. With a focus on improving urban transport, we are striving to create a low footprint and high passenger density integrated EV mobility ecosystem. The government’s vision and policies towards EV adoption are supportive with the growing consumer demand for green solutions. I would like to congratulate Switch Mobility, a subsidiary of Ashok Leyland, for being committed to revitalizing Double Decker and introducing new technologies for the benefit of commuters and society.
The India-made Switch EIV 22 vehicle has 65 passenger seats and a battery pack that will give it a range of 250 km (155 mi).
The fossil fuel-powered red double-decker debuted in Mumbai in 1937, and 900 of them served the city’s routes at the peak of their operations.
The old fleet has been gradually phased out since the 1990s and now less than 50 operate in the city.
As per reports on Wednesday, BEST has awarded the contract for the supply of 900 electric buses in phases. Of these, 50 per cent buses are expected to arrive by March 2023 and the remaining 50 per cent after that.