Mumbai's transport corporation, the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST) and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) are set to roll the first lot of hybrid air-conditioned buses before October. These buses will run to the Bandra Kurla Complex from the Bandra, Kurla and Sion railway stations, with tickets costing between Rs15-25. The MMRDA has ordered a total of 25 such buses, each costing around Rs 1.61 crore, from Tata Motors. These 32-seater low floor buses run on a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain, are BS-IV compliant and have a brake-energy regeneration system. For passengers, they have features like mobile charging points, a passenger announcement system, WiFi and an automatic fare collection system.
The buses are currently parked at Tata Motor's facility at Panvel and are awaiting approval from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Transport Authority (MMRTA) to bring them on the road. According to an RTO official, the buses are owned by the MMRDA, but will be run on their behalf by BEST. Since they will be run on behalf of a regional planning and development body, they need the MMRTA's permission to run on public roads.
The plan to bring eco-friendly buses to the BKC region finally sees fruition four years after it was conceived. The delay was due to issues with the plan's structure, operations and maintenance. These buses were bought by the MMRDA to support the FAME 2015 scheme (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid Electric vehicles).