A project to improve last-mile connectivity with the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) via e-rickshaws has not gone anywhere since July 2022. Sixty e-rickshaws were put into service for the same from July 2021 onwards on a pilot project basis but those vehicles are no more available after the project ended in July 2022. Those in the know said the Request For Proposal (RFP) of the company that carried out the pilot project is under consideration and the service is likely to resume only after the AMC decides on the same.
Three companies had bid for the project flagged off by Union Home Minister Amit Shah in 2018. Under the project, the bidding company was responsible for the investments, autos, drivers, and maintenance of the vehicle. However, two of these companies that won the bid had their bank guarantees seized. Initially, the project also saw a lot of competition and clashes between the CNG and e-rickshaws drivers.
Vraj Shah, an IIT-Bombay graduate from Ahmedabad approached the AMC officials. He was among one of the original bidders but had not been selected. He is very passionate about the project and even gave up his residence in the US to carry forward the project. He began it on a pilot project basis operating e-rickshaws from Shivranjani to Corporate Road. Later more routes were added with six e-rickshaws on each route and the company got a good response.
Shah, 29, said the project was operated under the PPP model. The e-rickshaws were operational at Shivranjani, Nehrunagar, Himmatlal Park, Andhjan Mandal and Memnagar stations.
He said introducing an app for the service will help people book an auto as well as a BRTS ticket at the same time and this will help improve its use. Interestingly only 25 of the 60 e-rickshaws in the depot are in working condition as the rest need maintenance. When the service was available most customers used it as a shared ride.
Shah said e-rickshaws are cheaper than CNG ones. An energy engineer, Shah said the project is good for the environment, helps underprivileged drivers, and can solve emission and traffic issues. Even the 60 e-rickshaws end up saving 75 tonnes of CO2 per month.
General Manager, BRTS, Vishal Khanama said they are evaluating the RFP to have 300 e-rickshaws which will help improve last-mile connectivity.