This week, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha launched 75 Electric Buses as part of the Srinagar Smart City initiative and stated that it is a major step towards realizing the vision of carbon neutrality, aligning with the goals set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In a function in Srinagar, LG Sinha underscored the pivotal role played by the Srinagar Smart City Limited in turning the concept of ‘modal shift’ into a concrete reality. The city is adopting an integrated approach to provide its residents with efficient and sustainable transportation options while contributing to overall societal sustainability, he said. While dedicating 75 e-buses, LG said that the Government covers 50 percent of the fares, with only 50 percent to be paid by passengers. This is a significant decision by the Government.” He said the new buses are loaded with the latest technology and they will produce zero emissions. “This forward-thinking initiative not only aims to enhance transportation services but also to promote a harmonious balance with the environment. The introduction of e-buses represents a remarkable leap forward in the pursuit of reducing carbon emissions and achieving a greener, cleaner future for Srinagar,” Governor Sinha said. He further emphasized Srinagar Smart City’s commitment to smart mobility and sustainability, aligning with the national vision for a cleaner and greener India. These electric buses will significantly improve the availability of dependable, cost-effective, eco-friendly, and safe public transportation for the people of Srinagar and its neighbouring districts. LG Sinha also highlighted the key features of these e-buses, including their ability to cover a minimum daily run of 200 kilometers, convenient service hours from 8 AM to 8 PM, and their contribution to a sustainable future for Srinagar. Additionally, he expressed his confidence in the imminent realization of the long-cherished dream of a Metro Rail system in Srinagar and Jammu. This project is expected to revolutionize urban transportation and connectivity in the region, reducing congestion and promoting eco-friendliness. During the launch event, Lt. Governor Sinha directed officials to ensure the year-round functionality of dedicated charging stations for the e-buses, ensuring uninterrupted service. He also expressed gratitude to the Central Government for its support in enhancing urban transportation in the Union Territory. The e-buses are equipped with features such as Universal Access, HVAC systems, on-board vehicle tracking, CCTV surveillance, and emergency stop facilities to enhance passenger safety and convenience. A dedicated mobile app and an online ticket payment system have been developed to make commuting more convenient, and all buses are seamlessly integrated with the Srinagar Smart City’s Integrated Command & Control Centre. Furthermore, a state-of-the-art bus depot is under construction at Pantha Chowk, and charging sub-stations have been set up to ensure the smooth operation of these e-buses, further solidifying Srinagar’s commitment to sustainable and efficient urban transportation, according to LG Sinha.
Project Budget: The budget for the project highlights the Prime Minister’s dedicated efforts, with approximately Rs 73 crores out of the Rs 100 crores capital expenditure budget for these buses being contributed by the Central Government. Additionally, the estimated operational cost for these buses over the next 12 years is expected to range between Rs 900-950 crores. Lt. Governor Sinha expressed the desire to foster a strong partnership between Tata Motors and the region, given its unique access to lithium reserves.
“The e-buses are equipped with features such as Universal Access, HVAC systems, on-board vehicle tracking, CCTV surveillance, and emergency stop facilities to enhance passenger safety and convenience. A dedicated mobile app and an online ticket payment system have been developed to make commuting more convenient, and all buses are seamlessly integrated with the Srinagar Smart City’s Integrated Command & Control Centre”.
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Time Line of Smart Smart City: Smart City Mission was launched by Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD)Gol in which 100 cities were to be selected for Urban renewal and retrofitting with the objective to promote cities that provide core infrastructure, give a decent quality of life to their citizens and apply smart solutions to improve services and infrastructure. Srinagar Smart City project was approved in Round 3 challenge held in April 2017.Smart city project comprises of two parts: (a) Area Based Development with an estimated amount of Rs. 2869.24/- crores and (b) Pan city Solutions with an estimated cost of Rs. 765.03/- crores. Srinagar Smart City Limited, a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) was incorporated on September 08, 2017 under the Companies Act, 2013 and the company is limited by shares.
Public Perception about e-buses in Srinagar: Local residents in Srinagar have expressed their appreciation for the introduction of smart electric buses in their city. Many believe that this initiative is a significant step forward in improving public transportation and environmental sustainability. Mohammad Yousuf, a local from Saraf Kadal said smart e-buses are a breath of fresh air for our city. They are eco-friendly and make commuting more convenient. “The introduction of electric buses is a welcome change. It not only reduces pollution but also provides a more comfortable and efficient mode of transportation,” he said. The local people community is equally excited about the transition to electric buses, but they are calling for comprehensive rehabilitation. Abdul Qadir Sofi, a local driver emphasized the need for assistance, stating, “We should provide soft loans to drivers to help them purchase electric buses. This way, we can modernize our public transportation system and ensure a cleaner environment, he said. “The locals’ consensus appears to be that a shift from traditional buses to electric ones is not only beneficial for the environment but also for the livelihoods of the transport community,” Sofi said. Another local Tahir Shafi said that there is also need to support our traditional bus drivers in this transition. Soft loans to purchase electric buses can make this shift more accessible and equitable, ensuring our transport sector remains strong, he said. “The shift to electric buses is a sign of forward-thinking urban development. It not only benefits the environment but also opens up opportunities for innovation and cleaner, more efficient transportation solutions,” he said.
“Introduction of e-buses in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is a positive and forward-thinking development. It promises to bring about a reduction in pollution, more affordable fares, and a greener and more sustainable future for the region. However, it is crucial to ensure that traditional bus drivers are not left behind in this transition. A comprehensive support system, including soft loans, rehabilitation, and an exchange program, should be established to ensure the success of this transformative initiative. Under the leadership of LG Manoj Sinha, the region is taking bold steps towards a more inclusive and sustainable transportation future”.
View of Kashmir Horizon: The recent introduction of electric buses (e-buses) in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has been met with widespread appreciation and optimism. This initiative, under the dynamic leadership of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, marks a significant step forward in the region’s pursuit of a cleaner and more sustainable transportation system. The introduction of e-buses is expected to have far-reaching positive impacts on the environment, public transportation, and the livelihoods of drivers who previously relied on traditional buses.
Environmental Impact: The introduction of e-buses in Jammu and Kashmir is seen as a welcome step in the ongoing effort to curb pollution. These electric buses are characterized by zero emissions, reducing the carbon footprint and improving air quality in the region. This development aligns with the global trend towards greener and more sustainable transportation solutions, contributing to a healthier environment for all residents.
Affordable Public Transportation: One of the key benefits of e-buses is the potential for reduced fares for passengers. E-buses have lower operational costs than traditional buses, which can translate into more affordable fares for commuters. This is expected to make public transportation more accessible and attractive to a broader segment of the population, improving mobility in the Union Territory.
Support for Traditional Bus Drivers: Recognizing the importance of supporting traditional bus drivers who have been the backbone of the region’s transportation system, it is essential to consider their livelihoods in the transition to e-buses. Many drivers and their families depend on this profession, and the change to electric buses can pose challenges. In this regard, the government should take proactive steps to ensure the smooth transition of these drivers.
Soft Loans: The government should provide soft loans to traditional bus drivers, enabling them to purchase e-buses and transition into this eco-friendly mode of transportation. These loans should be designed to be accessible and affordable, facilitating the transition process.
Rehabilitation Scheme: The launch of a rehabilitation scheme specifically for traditional bus drivers is crucial. This scheme should encompass financial assistance, training, and support to help drivers adapt to the new system.
Exchange Program: An exchange program could be established to facilitate the transition. Drivers who have served the region for years should have the opportunity to exchange their old buses for e-buses, making the switch more convenient.
Inclusivity: Under the dynamic leadership of LG Manoj Sinha, the focus should be on ensuring that the support is provided without bias or favoritism. The government should prioritize the welfare of drivers who were running their homes on transportation.
In conclusion, the introduction of e-buses in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is a positive and forward-thinking development. It promises to bring about a reduction in pollution, more affordable fares, and a greener and more sustainable future for the region. However, it is crucial to ensure that traditional bus drivers are not left behind in this transition. A comprehensive support system, including soft loans, rehabilitation, and an exchange program, should be established to ensure the success of this transformative initiative. Under the leadership of LG Manoj Sinha, the region is taking bold steps towards a more inclusive and sustainable transportation future.