New Town is now a certified Gold-rated Green City, as adjudged by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), an institution of CII. It has also evolved as a Solar City and is taking various steps to reduce carbon emission from the burning of fossil fuels. It is covered under the Green City Mission, an on-going initiative of the Government of West Bengal.
In support of the latter, West Bengal Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (HIDCO) has recently launched three air-conditioned electric buses as a pilot project with CSR funding received from Coal India Ltd. “The goal is to move towards environmental sustainability in accordance with the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” explains Debashis Sen, Chairman and Managing Director, HIDCO.
The electric buses that are presently under operation in New Town are manufactured by Eicher. They are mid-sized 32-seater air-conditioned vehicles with a green and white exterior. The battery-operated electric buses are 100% emission-free and silent vehicles, making them totally environment-friendly.
There are two automatic doors: one at the front for entry and the other at the middle for exit. As one boards the bus there is a rotating lock gate to check and proceed inside. The commuters have to buy a ticket from the driver himself who punches a ticket-generating machine and hands over a coupon to the commuter. The driver thus moderates the entry. The commuters must then rotate the horizontal tripod at the rotating lock gate to proceed further inside the bus, eliminating the requirement for bus conductors. As the vehicles have no gear or clutch, the bus driver can easily manage the collection of fare from the commuters himself. “Our electric buses have a maximum speed of 80 km per hour but we usually drive at an average speed of 40-45 km speed. These are a lot easier to drive as they do not have gear or clutch,” says Partha, an electric bus driver.
The interiors of the bus are very modern and sophisticated. It has a grey wash with comfortable navy-blue seats. Passenger-safety is secured with seatbelts. There are large windows on either side of the bus that serve as emergency exits too. Red hammers are provided near these windows that can be used to break the glass in case of emergency. The buses come pre-equipped with two fire extinguishers to safeguard in case of an exigency of fire. Additionally, there are four ‘Stop’ buttons to alert the driver when a passenger wishes to disembark.
The electric buses started operation from the launch date itself on 1st May this year. They presently operate from 8 am to 12 noon and 4 pm to 8 pm around three different circular routes within New Town. The routes have been designed to connect areas of habitation that are slightly away from the regular bus routes. The fare is a reasonable Rs 10 for all passengers, irrespective of the distance travelled.
The bus terminus is adjacent to Pride Hotel in New Town. The buses are charged using special charging points. It takes around 6 to 8 hours for a full charge. There is a separate team of engineers always on duty in the terminus dedicated to the service and maintenance of these buses.
In the absence of any noise, vibration or jerk, one can imagine the comfort level in an electric bus! With a cut-off of only 32 passengers per bus – no more are allowed entry – ensuring a seat for everyone. The large windows offer a clear view of the surroundings, giving an international look and feel to the commute.
It is apparent that with HIDCO’s introduction of the electric vehicles, commuting in New Town has become more convenient for the residents. Debashis Sen states that “the performance and economics are being presently studied. On getting the study report, expansion programmes will be launched.”
ELECTRIC BUS ROUTE
Route 1 – Pride Hotel > Govt. College > New Town > NBCC > Axis Mall > Balaka Tower > Unitech Gate 1 > Uniworld City > Sapoorji > Karigari Bhawan > Narkelbagan > Swapnabhor
Route 2 – Swapnabhor> Narkelbagan> Karigari Bhawan> Sapoorji> Uniworld City> Unitech Gate 1> Balaka Tower> Axis Mall> NBCC> New Town> Govt. College> Pride Hotel
Route 3 – Pride Hotel > Narkelbagan > Tata Medical > Eco Space > Aliah University > Amity > NS Corridor > Eco Park Gate 3 > Akhankha Morh > No. 16 Tank > Eco Urban Village > Pecha More > Akhankha Morh > Pride Hotel