Thiruvananthapuram: The state capital will become the first city in the country to have environment-friendly public transportation.

As part of its effort to cut down pollution and promote electric vehicles, the state government has decided to use only e-buses for city transportation.

The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation had launched electric bus service earlier on a pilot basis. The zero-emission buses turned out to be a big hit for the financially starved KSRTC. Following that the state government came up with a state electric vehicle policy aiming to reduce pollution in view of the health hazards by increasing the use of e-vehicles.

On Thursday, the finance minister Thomas Issac earmarked whopping Rs 1,000 crore in the Budget 2019-20 for KSRTC. A portion of the fund would be used for procuring electric buses.

As many as 407 buses from five depots including Thiruvananthapuram City, Pappanamcode, Vellanad, Vikas Bhavan and Peroorkada conduct services within city limits.  According to officials, all the existing diesel buses would be used for rural transportation.  The KSRTC is currently operating around 10 electric buses, which is running profitably.  Officials said that the KSRTC could save Rs 57 per km of average expenses of Rs 110 per km during the trial run.

The actual plan of the government is to roll out 1,000 electric buses by 2020 as part of its Electric Vehicle Mobility Policy. The policy aims at providing environment friendly electric vehicles. The plan is to produce batteries and electric motors.

The official said that e-buses are available for lease. “We may not be able to buy many e-buses and leasing is an option we will be exploring,” said the official. However, setting up of more charging station for simultaneous usage by buses would be a challenge for KSRTC.