For over two years Raju’s has been an unenviable grind for 6 days in the week. He lives 100km away from the project site and his job has been to commute daily to keep an eye on things.
He gets up at 5.30am and takes two buses to get to Madurantakam, the nearest big town, about 15km away from the project. Buses from there to Jamin Endathur, where the project is, are infrequent. Once he alights there – after three bus rides- he still has 5km to go. This was covered by a bicycle. The last 3/4km is the dirt road within pointReturn.
After three hours of bus rides, a bicycle is not a joyous vehicle to behold- atleast not daily, in our weather. Remember also that after the reverse commute, Raju’s day usually ends at around 9pm.
Understandably, Raju has petitioned me from time to time for a scooter to do the 15km leg from Madurantakam. I had been adamant in saying no to a petrol scooter, for 3 reasons. Most of all, a scooter, like a xerox machine, creates unjustifiable, unessential usage. Two, Raju, having lost an eye in a childhood accident is not eligible for a driving license. Finally, I wanted to explore if there was a more environmentally acceptable alternative.
After researching the new crop of electric two wheelers for several months I picked on the Marathon model of Ultramotors. There were a few checks I made before I bought it:
- Price: Rs.27,000. Was acceptable because there would be no fuel costs
- Can it get into the back of my Toyota Qualis through the tailgate? It could. The service station is 100km away and the bike’s range is 80km per charge
- Can the charger run within the 700w max capacity of my solar power installation at pointReturn? It needs under 120w.
- Does it’s driver need a license? No. It’s max speed is 25kmph. Anyone can ride it, without a driving license.
So Mr.Raju is one happy man. He rides the Marathon to Madurantakam, and parks it at a stand run by a local family. He then takes the frequent buses from there to his home. Next morning he rides it to pointReturn. Once there, he plugs it into our solar station. About 3 or 4 hours everyday suffices. We have bought a foot pump to keep the tires inflated. That’s the only recurring check that needs to be made.