The owners of commercial mini-buses have begun switching over their vehicles to CNG in the wake of growing diesel prices to off-set the cost to remain in business.Yes, it has come to our knowledge also that around 50 to 60 mini-buses and coaches engaged in commercial transportation of passengers on various routes have been fitted with CNG kits, said Mohammed Ashraf, an office-bearer of Karachi Transport Ittehad (KTI). Mainly the vehicles plying on routes in western part of the city including Saeedabad, Mohajir Camp, SITE Area, Mauripur and Tower were seen refuelling their vehicles at CNG stations. Presently the CNG run mini-buses are very few and being run on trial basis to check and analyze their performance and affects on engine, said Shiraz Gul, driver of a mini-bus while talking to this scribe at a CNG station in Gulbai area on Mauripur Road. He said that as compared to diesel, they have to make long queues at CNG stations due to fluctuation in gas pressure which affects their timing to reach their destination and sometimes passengers also get irritated.
Moreover, the speed pick-up of these vehicles have also been slightly affected due to conversion to CNG as compared to diesel fuel, Gul added. A mini-bus/coach with diesel engine requires altered CNG kit along with four cylinders of 50 kg each and the equipment cost ranges from Rs 100,000 to Rs 125,000.
The cylinders are fitted two-each beneath and adjacent to the both sides of chassis of the vehicle.
It costs Rs 1200 to 1300 to fill to capacity all the four cylinders which is enough for whole day, the driver of another mini-bus added. Presently the CNG, diesel and petrol prices hover at Rs 56.80 per kg, 94.58 per litre and petrol Rs 88.33 per litre, respectively. Those plying with CNG fitted coaches have not yet passed on the relief to the commuters and have not reduced fares despite a difference of about Rs 38 between the prices of CNG and diesel prices. KTIs Mohammed Ashraf further stated that it would not possible for them to pass on the relief to commuters until over 70 percent fleet of public transport converts to CNG.
Other means of public transport including taxis and auto-rickshaws are already run either on CNG or LPG. Presently, an estimated 20,000 public transport vehicles are plying on roads in Karachi including 3,000 buses, and 15,000 coaches and mini-buses.
The public transport is also said to be the major source of air pollution and conversion to CNG would tackle this problem to a great extent as Karachi is one of 18 megacities of the world facing dangerous levels of air-pollution, according to one of the environmentalist associated with an NGO.
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