Switch Mobility's first 200 of its new electric double-decker buses will arrive in Mumbai in December.

Nearly a century after they first appeared, Mumbai, India's entertainment hub, is increasing its fleet of red double-decker buses in the style of London, only this time they are electric. On Mumbai's congested roads, the first of 200 brand-new buses from Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) is anticipated to enter service in December, joining over 400 single-floor EVs already in use. On Thursday, the BEST fleet welcomed two new electric buses, including the first air-conditioned double-decker bus in the nation.

India, which has 1.4 billion people and is the third-largest carbon producer in the world, has made a commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by the year 2070. The need to reduce pollution in places with some of the worst air in the world is one of the factors driving the move toward electrifying public transportation. The electric bus was created by Switch Mobility, a division of Ashok Leyland, a major player in Indian auto manufacture.

Similar electric double-deckers built by the company were rolled out in London in 2014.

"We want common people to use electric mobility and achieve their goals of net-zero," Switch Mobility India chief executive Mahesh Babu told AFP at Thursday's unveiling of the new fleet.

Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways of India, said in a press release, “There is a need to transform the country's transport system from a long-term perspective. With focus on reforming urban transport, we are trying to build a low footprint and high passenger density integrated EV mobility ecosystem. Government's vision and policies are supportive towards EV adoption with growing consumer demand for greener solutions. I would like to congratulate Switch Mobility, subsidiary of Ashok Leyland, for being the one to revive the double decker and remain committed to introducing new technologies for the benefit of passengers and society, at large.”

The Indian-made Switch EiV 22 has 65 passenger seats and a battery pack that would give it a 250-kilometre range (155 miles). At their peak, 900 red double-deckers fueled by fossil fuels operated on city routes, making their debut in Mumbai in 1937. Less than 50 vehicles presently operate in the city as the outdated fleet has been gradually phased out since the 1990s.

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