Nitin Gadkari’s pilot project for Nagpur featuring airplane-like features in a 132 seater bus. Click to know more

Nitin Gadkari's pilot project for Nagpur featuring airplane-like features in a 132 seater bus. Click to know more

Nitin Gadkari's pilot project for Nagpur featuring airplane-like features in a 132 seater bus. Click to know more

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Cutting the cost of public transportation is a major focus area for the government, says the Road Transport and Highways Minister.

In a significant move to address pollution and transportation costs, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has announced a pilot project in Nagpur involving a 132-seater electric bus. The project aims to promote non-polluting transportation solutions while providing an affordable and comfortable travel experience. The bus will feature airplane-like seating, and a “bus hostess,” and will be powered by non-polluting sources of energy, making it cheaper than regular diesel buses.

“We are doing a pilot project in Nagpur with Tata. When I went to the Czech Republic, they have a trolley bus which is achieved by joining three buses. Our project will seat 132 people and will travel 49 km on the ring road and it will halt at the bus stop after 40 km, getting charged for the next 40 km in just 40 seconds. The cost for this is working out to ₹ 35-40 per km,” he said. 

During an award function, Gadkari emphasized the importance of finding import-substitute, cost-effective, and pollution-free transport solutions. He highlighted that the pilot project is part of the government’s broader initiative to reduce India’s reliance on energy imports and promote the use of clean energy.

The Nagpur project, developed in collaboration with Tata, will see the bus travel 49 km on a ring road, stopping for a 40-second recharge every 40 km. The operating cost is estimated to be ₹35-40 per km, significantly lower than diesel buses. The bus will be well equipped with air-conditioning, and comfortable seating. Premium amenities like fruits, packed food, and beverages are to be provided by bus hostesses, to give a plane-like experience.

Gadkari also noted the government’s efforts to promote alternative fuels, such as ethanol and CNG. He mentioned that Indian Oil is installing 300 ethanol pumps, and automobile companies are introducing flex-fuel vehicles. Ethanol, priced at ₹60 per litre, is a more economical and environmentally friendly alternative to petrol.

The minister highlighted the cost benefits of electric buses, stating that running costs for AC electric buses are ₹41 per km, while non-AC electric buses cost ₹37 per km, with subsidies. Without subsidies, the cost ranges between ₹50 and ₹60 per km, potentially reducing ticket prices by 15-20%.

In addition to the pilot project, Gadkari announced the success of using ethanol and bio-bitumen in various sectors, such as construction equipment and aviation fuel. He acknowledged Petroleum Minister Hardeep Puri for supporting a project producing 1 lakh litres of ethanol from stubble and bio-bitumen, nearing completion.

Gadkari also discussed the ministry’s achievements in waste management, citing the reduction of waste in the Ghazipur landfill in Delhi and Ahmedabad. He stressed the importance of using organic waste to produce bio CNG, bio LNG, or hydrogen.

The minister also mentioned future plans for drones, ropeways, and funicular railways, particularly in hilly regions like Uttarakhand, Himachal, and Ladakh. This would help to further reduce pollution.

In a major announcement, Gadkari revealed that GPS-based tolling will be implemented on 5,000 km of roads within three months. This system will ensure toll payments are based on the exact distance travelled, and deducted directly from bank accounts without stopping.

“Tenders are ready. Satellite-based tolling will ensure you only pay for the number of km that you have travelled on a particular road, and the amount will be deducted straight from your bank account. You won’t have to stop anywhere. This will start on 5,000 km and will then be implemented everywhere,” he asserted

Gadkari expressed confidence in securing funds for his projects, noting that investors are eager to invest in his ministry’s initiatives. 

He stated that foreign investors must be willing to finance projects in rupees to proceed with discussions. While he highlighted the challenges posed by rupee-dollar fluctuations, Mr Gadkari emphasised that he has no shortage of funds for his projects. He said that investors are queuing up because his ministry is sitting on a goldmine.