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BEST bets big on CNG cylinders

The corporation, which runs the city’s bus services, is stocking up on CNG cylinders. They want ensure that the buses that run on CNG are not grounded when their original cylinder is taken away for testing during routine inspections

In a bid to make the city’s road transport more environment friendly, the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) has recently increased its fleet of buses that run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).

Of the 4,200 buses that BEST boasts of, around 600 buses are grounded on any given day, due to various maintenance work. File photo
Of the 4,200 buses that BEST boasts of, around 600 buses are grounded on any given day, due to various maintenance work. File photo

However, they clearly didn’t see one hurdle: Every time engineers run routine inspection on these buses, they take away the CNG cylinder that powers the buses, for a thorough check up. This check up takes a week, during which the buses are grounded.

To solve this problem, BEST has now placed a bulk order for 132 CNG cylinders. Three types of CNG cylinders differing mainly on their capacity to take in water will be bought at a cost of around Rs 20 lakh.

Speaking to sunday mid-day, BEST officials explained that as per guidelines, each CNG cylinder in a bus has to undergo hydraulic tests or replacements every three years. During this time there are inspections on the cylinder’s quality, and checks done for dents, rust or corrosion.

“At the time of these hydraulic tests, the people in-charge, remove and take the cylinders to the lab,” said a senior BEST official. So the buses are left lying at the respective depots until the cylinders are installed again. The average time to complete this exercise is at least seven days, during which the schedule of all buses get affected with far less vehicles plying on each route.

“The frequency of tests completely messes up services. This can be a bigger problem as we upgrade more buses to CNG. We are buying these cylinders in bulk,” said OP Gupta, General Manager, BEST. Once these 132 cylinders are bought, the buses wouldn’t be detained for more than two days at a time, substantially reducing the problem for commuters.

Of the 4,200 BEST buses, around 600 buses are grounded on any given day in any case, due to various maintenance work. Any further delay during CNG cylinder inspections, say BEST officials, would only make matters worse and affect both commuters and the undertaking’s revenues.

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