Journey of electric buses begins

Journey of electric buses begins

With Bhutan’s very first inauguration of electric city bus service in the country on July 19, 2023, city bus service, under Thimphu Thromde, now aims and says that the next step would be to move on since the country produces renewable hydro power.

The officiating director of City Bus Service, Pasang Tshering said that the next step would be to go electric since the country produces renewable hydro power. However he raised concerns over budgetary constraints.

“The constraint will be the huge upfront cost that we need to bear to buy electric buses,” the officiating director said, adding that the transition from fossil fuel buses to electric will benefit Bhutan by cutting down emission, reducing traffic ( since the standard of the bus will improve) and also cut down fuel import ( few important benefits amongst many others).

Passang said that the life span of the electric bus would be 5 years or 180000 kms whichever occurs first. But if taken proper care, the battery would support for more than 8 years.

“The charge rate will decline and the mileage will be less but the bus shall function,” Passang said.

According to the officiating director, the electric bus shall have a prescribed speed of 30 to 40 km/hrs depending on the road conditions and rules and regulations set by Bhutan Construction and Transport Authority.

The bus would give a mileage of approximately 230 kms per single charge taking into consideration the gradient and load factor.

However, with the introduction of such technology in the country, the officiating director shared that there are advantages such as reduction of emission, increased ridership, reduced traffic congestion, cost of maintaining infrastructure, import of spares for vehicles, and fuel import, amongst others.

In addition, the officiating director also said that the challenges of the electric buses would be not having trained technicians. The buses or the vehicles may get stranded if it breaks down and there is high cost of spare parts since there are only few electric vehicle suppliers and authorized dealer for spare parts.

The very first electric city bus in the country is a 46-seater with 28 seats and 18 standing with automatic gear and the feature includes USB port on the passenger’s seat, driver’s safety compartment, CCTV cameras with a monitor screen in front of driver’s seat, a button for artificial vehicle sound, hammers near windows to break the window glass in case of an emergency, and ramp for wheelchairs, amongst others. 

“The City Bus Service remains ever grateful for the bus and related charging infrastructures,” Passang said, adding that now it is not only the duty of the City Bus Service to take care of this bus and related charging infrastructure but also the responsibility of the commuters and residents to keep the bus clean and refrain from damaging it.

Meanwhile, the bus was procured with grant from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs under the Project – Promoting Green Electric mobility (e-mobility) solutions for urban transport in Bhutan and the Wider Hindukush Himalaya Region through UNIDO.

Sherab Dorji from Thimphu