Electric buses proposed to be procured by the Tamil Nadu government will be operated and maintained by the private company. In other words, the electric buses will be operated under a public-private-partnership model wherein the drivers will be provided by the company while the conductors by the government.

The company will operate the electric buses from point A to point B at the tariff fixed based on per km basis by the State government, said sources in the government.

The Tamil Nadu government is stepping up efforts to replace the existing fleet of diesel buses with electric buses with an idea to stop procuring new diesel buses from 2026. This is, however, subject to the plans to procure the electric buses goes as planned, sources said.

It plans to issue a tender soon to procure 100 electric buses for the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC), which operates the buses in Chennai. The funding for this will be done by KfW (German Development Bank) with each bus costing around ₹2 crore. The State government is awaiting a no objection certificate from the funding agency to issue the tender, the sources said.

Parallely, in the first phase, the State government plans to float a tender in a month to procure around 500 electric buses through World Bank funding. It can be extended to another 500 electric buses in the second phase, the sources said.

The State government recently issued an order for 1,666 BSVI buses from Ashok Leyland at a value of around ₹371 crore for operating in various districts. This is funded directly by the State government.

BSVI buses

The State government will soon issue a tender to procure 300 low floor diesel buses with each costing around ₹90 lakh.

Tamil Nadu’s Transport Department Policy Note for 2023-24 says that the State government entered into agreement with KfW to procure 12,000 BS-VI buses and 2,000 electric buses commencing from the year 2021 over a span of five years with cost sharing ratio of 80 per cent (KfW) as interest free loan and 20 per cent share by the State government. Diesel buses are to be deployed in 7 State Transport Undertakings except SETC. Electric buses are to be deployed in Chennai, Madurai and Coimbatore cities as replacement of old buses.

The Policy Note said that the The Road map and future Policies of the Transport Department is to achieve the objectives of 3Cs - Clean, Convenient and Congestion-free - and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for the year 2030.

In Tamil Nadu, Government-owned State Transport Undertakings (STU) and Private operators have the stage carriage permits to operate stage carriage buses - motor vehicles constructed or adapted to carry more than six passengers - at the travel fare fixed by the Government. As on January 1, 2023, a total of 28,027 stage carriage buses are in the State including 20,213 by STUs, 7,814 buses by private operators and 3,990 mini buses.

The daily ridership patronage, which stood at 1.21 crore per day in the year 2021-22 due to Covid-19 pandemic, increased to 1.70 crore in the year 2022-23 per day, the Policy Note said.

To reduce the pollution level in the state, the Government has already taken action to replace 3,313 diesel buses into less pollution BSVI diesel buses and 500 zero pollution electric buses, the Note said.