Kerala: After solar boat, plan for ‘water bus’
Imagine a ride in an amphibious bus, a vehicle that operates on land as well as on water, which is deployed by only a handful of countries worldwide. If the transport department has its way, the construction of the ‘water-bus’ will start this year itself. The initiative is being taken following the success of the country’s first solar ferry boat, ‘Aaditya,’ rolled out by the State Water Transport Department in January 2017 in Vaikom-Tavanakadavu section.
“An expert delegation from CUSAT along with officials of the water transport department was in the US recently to hold discussions with a company, ‘Advanced Amphibious Design Inc,’ on the technology and feasibility of operating such a vehicle here,” a top government official told DC. Since the import of an amphibious bus would be too costly, the department plans to indigenously build a ‘water-bus’ with an open deck which will be cheap compared to a fully air-conditioned vehicle.
“We’ve started talks with the Swedish Volvo Company which has the technology. If the talks fructify, the vehicle will be built at the Volvo plant’s branch at Aroor, near Kochi. Mainly we wanted to connect islands with major towns, for instance, the Perumbalam Island with Aroor,” the official said. Transport minister A.K. Saseendran too said the state government plans to start construction of the ‘water-bus’ this year itself.
Meanwhile, the transport department is also drawing up an electric mobility policy under which public transport vehicles will be shifted to cleaner fuels. “As per the policy, the KSRTC will start operating electric, CNG and LPG buses in large numbers in a five-year period. An electric bus is estimated to cost Rs 75 lakh to Rs 90 lakh. However, the cost of operation is very less besides the green fuel benefit. Also, no permit will be issued for diesel autos in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode cities,” the official said.