Till January 31, 2014, as many as 45,000 vehicles in the city had switched over to CNG. These included 13,961 privately owned cars, about 30,000 autorickshaws and 900 buses of Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML). The vehicle population in the city is over 20 lakh.
Statistics sourced from the Regional Transport Office (RTO) stated that 26,415 vehicles had opted for compressed natural gas from 2011 to 2013 including 19,170 autorickshaws and 7,245 private cars. About 3,296 cars opted for CNG in 2013 as against 1,550 cars in 2011 and 2,399 in 2012. The remaining had started to change to the clean fuel after 2009, they added.
Users are opting for CNG because it is cheaper than petrol or diesel and vehicles give a decent mileage. "More vehicles opted for CNG, a cleaner fuel as compared to petrol and diesel, in the past three years. The availability of CNG has also improved across the city in the last few years," RTO officials said.
The boost came from a 2009 government order making it mandatory for autorickshaws and later for public buses to install CNG kits. Steps were initiated to reduce air pollution in the city caused by exhaust emissions.
A senior official said it was heartwarming that there is an increase in CNG-run private cars. "Though the number (13,961) looks small as against the city's total car population, there has been a steady growth in the number of car owners installing CNG kits. Till July 2013, about 11,102 CNG-operated cars were registered with RTO, which rose to 13,961 on January 31, 2014. This means about 2,800 CNG-run cars were registered in the last seven months," the official said.
Sources in the auto industry said car manufacturing companies have already adopted the technology required to install CNG-run engines in vehicles. Most metros in the country have strict rules for use of CNG for private vehicles. Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad are following in their footsteps, hence the number of CNG-run vehicles would go up, they added.
An official from the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited said of the 900 buses running on CNG, about 574 are owned by PMPML and the remaining 300 are buses hired on contract. The company plans to add another 300 CNG-run buses to its fleet.