Islamabad: A green revolution is gaining momentum in Pakistan as the government is all set to roll out first fleet of electric buses.

The ministry of science and technology has signed a memorandum of understanding with Airlift, the ride-hailing Pakistani start-up. The MoU to introduce battery-powered buses was signed by Minister of Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhary and executive director of Airlift, Syed Mehr Haider.

“We are excited to put forth our plan of adding electric vehicles on our fleet, we are also extremely grateful for the support that we have received from all relevant government bodies,” Airlift said in a statement. The service would be initially launched in Karachi and Lahore.

Pakistan government aims to produce 30 per cent cheaper electricity from renewable energy sources, Fawad said. The government is hoping to earn Rs10 billion during the next few years through green technology. The faster Pakistan adopts renewable energy and electric vehicles, the greater would be economic benefits, he noted. The ministry is also in the process of setting up a mega bio-technology park. The budget of the science ministry has also been increased 600 per cent in the current year and is expected to reach 1,500 per cent, signifying government’s focus on technology for public benefit, he added.

Pioneers of Pakistan’s first battery-powered buses

The ride-hailing start-up Airlift plans to become “pioneers of battery buses for Pakistan’s public transport system” claimed Mehr Haider. The company that connects passengers with buses on fixed-rate, is bringing in first electric buses to Pakistan to play their role in making Pakistan greener and cleaner, says Usman Gul, Airlift’s co-founder and CEO.

“Every Airlift bus on the road is a replacement for ten regular cars” Gul shared. More electric buses on the roads mean fewer cars, fewer greenhouse gas emissions, cleaner air, less pollution and above all cheaper travel. “We believe in making urban commute more efficient, while reducing traffic volume and carbon emissions in the increasingly congested, polluted cities of South Asia,” he added.

Cheaper and affordable mass transit

The Pakistani transportation start-up, born in April 2019, already boasts of tens of thousands of daily commuters in Lahore and Karachi. The company is building a decentralised mass transit system that offer users a reliable and affordable commute. The high quality and air-conditioned buses that have fixed routes, stops and times, offer 30 to 40 per cent cheaper rides than international ride-hailing services like Uber and Careem. The only drawback is that the commuters have to walk to/form pickup and drop-off points.

Recently Airlift raised $12 million (Dh44 million), which is the largest Series A investment ever raised by a Pakistani start-up and one of the largest financing in South Asia this year, spurring the country’s start-up ecosystem.

Pakistan focuses on electric vehicles

Two weeks ago, Pakistan approved its first-ever national Electric Vehicles (EV) policy in a bid to tackle effects of climate change, offer affordable transport and reduce dependence on oil imports that could help save $2 billion, encourage local car industry and create jobs. The country has set a target to convert 100,000 cars and 500,000 two and three wheeler vehicles to EVs in next four years.