Cleaning up the air with electric buses in Mumbai

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    Cities in India continue to take important initiatives to revamp the traditional polluting transportation systems. The latest initiative is to include electric buses in the public transportation fleet.

    Mumbai bus transportation authority BEST has announced plans to convert all CNG and diesel-powered buses into electric buses. The authority has secured a grant of Rs 10 crore (US$1.5 million) for this initiative.

    Mumbai is the largest Indian city in terms of population, and is infamous for traffic jams and poor road infrastructure. Due to increasing population pressure and lack of space to expand city infrastructure, promoting public transport is the only option for many Indian cities. However, this cannot be at the expense of air quality.

    As a result, Indian cities are looking at new and innovative measures to tackle these problems. Capital city New Delhi has adopted the odd-even vehicle rationing scheme made famous during the Beijing Olympics 2008. Delhi first implemented the rationing scheme in January this year, and again during the second half of April 2016.

    Delhi has also experimented with electric buses. The Delhi Transportation Corporation is currently operating one electric bus on pilot basis. The Delhi government will assess if more buses can be included in the existing fleet.

    India still lacks the basic infrastructure for electric vehicles, and the first electric bus was pressed into service only in 2014. Bangalore acquired a bus from China-based BYD and launched two years back amidst positive response from commuters.

    Despite the challenges for electric vehicles, the Indian government has announced an extremely ambitious target to become a ‘100% electric vehicle nation’ by 2030.

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