The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) will soon re-invite bids for its ambitious electric scooter project, which was earlier put on the back-burner after the concessionaire chosen the last time “did not come forward” to execute the project.
Officials of the civic body said that the project was delayed mainly due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Once launched, the project aims at curbing air pollution by providing last-mile connectivity by renting out electric scooters to users in areas under its jurisdiction. It will work on NDMC’s already popular smart bike-sharing system.
Dharmendra, chairman NDMC, confirmed that because of Covid-19 pandemic some projects, including the e-scooter one, had got delayed. “We had given the contract to someone, who didn’t come forward later to set up infrastructure for the same. So, we will be again bidding it out,” the NDMC chairman said.
NDMC officials said that it will be the second time when fresh bids will be called.
A senior NDMC official said that first bids of the project were called in early 2019 but those were rejected due to technical problems in drafting the proposals by the participant companies. The civic body later that year again floated tenders for the project and a concessionaire was appointed .
“Before work could begin, the Covid pandemic struck the country and a lockdown was imposed. After that, the contractor did not show any interest in the project, citing loss in business. So, we are now going to re-invite bids very soon. Files have been sent to higher authorities for formal approval. We are looking to launch the project by the end of the year,” the official said.
He added that it will take nearly six months, after allotment of a tender to the contractor, to set up the infrastructure and start operations.
He further said that bidding parameters for the project will include per minute charge to hire scooters, efficiency, maximum speed and the model of the e-scooters.
Another official, privy to the matter, said that as per previous bids, residents would be able to hire e-scooters for less than ₹10 for 15 minutes. He said that in the last bid, the per-minute charge was kept at 50 paisa, which would increase to 62 paisa after two hours. “The charges are likely to remain similar. However, it may change in the fresh bids. The prices will be fixed keeping in mind that the scheme remains affordable,” said the official.
Under the plan, the civic body will procure 1,000 e-scooters on public-private partnership (PPP) model and will set up at 100 locations across the NDMC area. In the first phase, only 500 e-scooters will be procured and set up at 50 commuter-friendly locations — such as metro stations, bus stops, hospitals, railway stations, among others.
He said that once launched, these e-scooters will help a lot in curbing pollution attracting customers who at the moment use private vehicles to travel for short distances.
Users will be able to hire the vehicle through ‘NDMC-311’ mobile application. To book an e-scooter, users will have to register on the ‘NDMC-311’ app, which will help them locate a nearby e-scooter stands. Users can use the touchpad on the back of the e-scooters to unlock it through a one-time password (OTP) sent on their cellphone. The app will record the time when the scooter is unlocked and the user will be charged a fee accordingly.
The e-scooters will have a range of 80 km to 100 km on full charge. One e-scooter can run with speed up to 55km per hour with maximum occupancy.
Anuj Malhotra, knowledge partner to Union ministry of home affairs, and who has helped civic agencies on a number of urban mobility projects, said that the initiative will help in “pollution abatement” in the city. He, however, stressed upon developing “priority lanes” for e-vehicles and also improvement of integrated traffic management system for the success of such projects. “Introduction of e-scooters is a good effort towards reducing pollution in the city but we need a congenial atmosphere too for such projects to succeed. The authorities should now also work upon creating priority lanes, which is already being practiced in many foreign countries, for e-vehicles and pool cabs. Projects such as e-scooter or private e-vehicles will get more encouragement if we have separate lanes for such traffic,” Malhotra said.