Kolkata Gets Its First CNG Bus To Reduce Cost And Pollution
Kolkata: In a bid to reduce pollution, West Bengal Transport Corporation (WBTC) has launched CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) bus services in Kolkata. State Transport & Housing Minister Firhad Hakim has inaugurated the first fleet by driving a bus from Kasba bus depot.
“Kolkata now has CNG. In the future, buses will be mostly electric and CNG. This will bring down the cost of running buses and also reduce pollution,” Mr Hakim said after the launch.
WBTC has a sizable fleet of 1,000 buses, of which 80 are electric. For the time being, only two CNG buses on a trial basis will hit the road to assess the feasibility.
Kolkata Reducing Costs And Pollution
Kolkata is facing severe shortages of buses as private bus owners are demonstrating to increase the fare. With Covid restrictions and rising petrol prices, bus owners are finding it difficult to sustain. Therefore, the CNG bus is a good alternative. In Delhi, the CNG buses have an average of 2 to 3.5 km/kg for a 130 hp six-cylinder engine after adding all factors.
CNG buses will cause less pollution compared to petrol and diesel. But all of this is only possible with adequate pump stations.
Lack Of CNG Pump Stations
Though CNG buses will reduce pollution, several constraints can hamper their operation. One of them is the lack of CNG stations across the city. Kolkata got its first CNG station in Garia (South 24 Parganas) in 2021, nearly after waiting for more than two decades.
The second CNG station was opened in April 2021 in the New Town area (North 24 Parganas) by Bengal Gas Company, a JV of GAIL (India), and Greater Calcutta Gas Supply Corporation Limited, a state government entity. Erstwhile, the Indian Oil Corporation has planned to open around 20 pumps in the financial year 2022. BPCL and HPCL might also add a similar number of pumps together, Bengal Gas Company officials said in March 2021.
However, Firhad Hakim has written on Twitter that CNG stations will be operational by another six months to ply a sizable fleet of CNG buses.
Converting Old Buses To CNG Buses
In the launch ceremony, the officials have said that they will retrofit old buses with CNG engines. Thus, they will run in both diesel and CNG. This innovative method will cost the boot space as it will house the cylinders.
A CNG kit costs around 42,000-45,000 rupees. Many vehicle owners may refuse the conversion due to this upfront cost. Cities except for Delhi and Mumbai have witnessed low conversion rates. A lack of CNG pumps aggravates the situation.
Electric Or CNG: Which One Is Better?
Kolkata has a steady fleet of electric buses ferrying people across the city. In comparison, electric buses cause less pollution than both CNG and diesel buses. Like CNG stations, there is also a severe shortage of electric vehicle charging stations.
Though CNG vehicles emit substantially lower greenhouse gases than diesel ones, electric buses have almost zero emissions. Not only that, they are cheaper than CNG for regular usage. But buying an electric bus or any vehicle is always costlier than its opponents.