Mumbai's first electric air-conditioned double-decker bus would be launched in the first week of August. The inaugural ceremony for the buses will be held on August 7, which will coincide with the foundation day of Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST).
Last October, Maharashtra Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray said that every bus that would be added to the BEST fleet will be electric and that the whole fleet will be converted to electric buses by 2028.
BEST general manager Lokesh Chandra said that the prototype blueprint of the electronic double-decker buses has been finalised and the contractor will now proceed to build the body, the Times of India reported.
The new double-decker e-buses will have two staircases instead of the single one, as it exists in the currently running vehicles. The two staircases will ensure smooth movement of passengers while boarding or alighting from the bus, according to Chandra. The new buses will be completely noiseless with more capacity and comfort.
The number of daily commuters using BEST buses currently stands at 31 lakhs and it is expected to increase by 1-2 lakhs in the coming years. Each new AC double-decker e-bus will be able to accommodate around 78 - 90 passengers, the report added.
The introduction of the electric double-decker buses is being seen as BEST’s target to revive the double-decker fleet, which had declined by 60 percent in the past two years.
The number of non-AC double-decker buses dropped from 120 in 2019 to 48 in 2022. These buses transport hundreds of passengers across 16 different routes in Mumbai. The ridership is quite high on routes such as CSMT to Nariman Point, Colaba to Worli, and Kurla to Santacruz. Chandra also stated that once the size of the double-decker buses increases, more buses will be deployed on the busier routes of Mumbai.
Contracts for 900 electric double-decker buses have already been approved with the first lot of 225 buses expected to be ready by the end of the year. The next batch of 225 buses will arrive by March 2023 and the final lot of 445 will arrive by June 2023.