The bus has been donated by Ashok Leyland to social organization Jyeshtha Nagarik Pratishthan, headed by Union minister Nitin Gadkari, under its corporate social responsibility (CSR). The pratishthan will use the bus for taking senior citizens on pilgrimages and to tourist places within 125km radius from the city free of cost.
The fully air conditioned bus, with a seating capacity of 65, runs on advanced lithium-ion battery. The bus will have a range of up to 250km once fully charged in 1.3-3 hours. The height of the bus will be 4.75 metre, length 9.8 metre and breadth 2.6 metre.
Though a double-decker bus has more capacity to ferry passengers, it remains to be seen how easily its upper floor will be accessible to senior citizens.
A source in the minister’s office said, “Gadkari along with CEO of Switch Mobility, electric vehicle arm of Ashok Leyland, Mahesh Babu, and vice-president (corporate affairs) of Ashok Leyland Yash Sachar will dedicate the bus to the public on September 16 with an inaugural run from near Jaiprakash Nagar Metro station on Wardha Road up to airport T-point and back.”
The electric double-decker bus has already reached the city and being repainted green so as to include it in the fleet of other e-buses being operated in the city.
Earlier, Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) had operated four double-decker buses within the city between 1988 to 1995.
Secretary of Jyeshtha Nagarik Pratishthan Raju Mishra told TOI, “It will be a historic moment for entire Vidarbha as for the first time an electric double-decker bus will run on roads in the region. The bus will be used to take senior citizens to Shegaon, Mahur, Kalamb, Ambhora, Adasa, Dhapewada, Paradsinga, Chandrapur and other pilgrimage and tourist places in the region.”
Former MP Datta Meghe is working president of the Pratishthan.
Former pratishthan secretary Ratnakar Raut said, “Apart from conducting tours for senior citizens, the pratishthan will make the bus available for tours planned by associations of senior citizens. We have a waiting list of over a month.”
Gadkari had facilitated city’s first standard-sized electric bus to the pratishthan in January 2019. Since then, nearly 26,000 senior citizens have travelled in the e-bus, having seating capacity of 30 passengers.
Hyderabad’s Olectra-BYD Greentech Limited had gifted the bus to the pratishthan under CSR.