15 cities get nod to raise bus fleet at Centre’s expense
Swanky new buses may hit the congested roads of many large cities as the Centre has cleared projects worth Rs 1,400 crore for raising fleets of these vehicles in cities including Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad, with the aim of promoting greener public transport. The urban development ministry has given the go-ahead to 15 cities to purchase around 4,200 buses under the urban transport scheme announced in second stimulus package to beat the impact of economic slowdown on automobile sector. Under the special scheme, the cities can avail “one-time central assistance” for the purchase of buses for public transport systems. The financing is exclusively meant for city bus service and the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) for all 63 mission cities. The assistance window for the scheme, which aims at stimulating demand for the commercial vehicle segment, will end in June this year. “Till now, around 20 cities have submitted proposals and the ministry has cleared 15 of them. The rest which include Delhi will be taken up soon,” urban development secretary M Ramachandran said. Under the scheme, the cities have committed to set up city-specific Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) for controlling and managing the city bus services and BRTS to ensure that the buses purchased are utilised exclusively for urban transport. In the first lot of cities which got a lion’s share are Mumbai — BEST (700 buses at a cost of Rs 205.76 crore), Navi Mumbai (150 buses at a cost of Rs 41.92 crore), Hyderabad (700 buses, Rs 205.76 crore) and Bangalore (700 buses for Rs 235 crore).