Travel green Ecologically | Shehr

“The future belongs to electric vehicles.”

In August last year, the Punjab government announced that eco-friendly electric buses would be launched in Lahore, Faisalabad and Rawalpindi. On November 6, Chief Minister Parvez Elahi said that Lahore would soon have electric buses. Although such announcements and soundbites have been heard several times lately, the fact is that an electric bus has already started what is said to be a trial journey – from the city’s train station to Valencia .

Currently, the bus makes two turns between the station and Valencia. The Punjab Transport Company (PTC) is overseeing the trial operation of the bus, which is an initiative of Sapphire Power Generation Limited (SPGL) in collaboration with Chinese automaker BYD. SPGL has partnered with China’s BYD to build an electric vehicle manufacturing plant in Pakistan, while BYD is well known for its range of all-electric utility vehicles and has a global presence.

Last week, this scribe took a ride on the new bus to the Liberty Market stop. The idea was to get an idea of ​​the city’s first e-bus. “Welcome aboard, ladies and gentlemen,” the voice of PTC instructor and driver Malik Zaheer Abbas echoed through the bus. “You are in an e-bus, which is environmentally sensitive and prioritizes passenger and driver safety. Under your seats are airbags that can be used in an emergency…”

As smog season reaches its peak and air pollution reaches dangerous levels, vehicles that don’t emit harmful gases are the need of the hour. To quote PTC Acting CEO Abdul Qayyum, the test is a modest step in the right direction. “Studies indicate that the future belongs to electric vehicles (EVs). Most car parks around the world will only have electric vehicles by 2030,” he said. TNS.

“The CTP is aware of the state of affairs,” he adds. “Therefore, he conducted a feasibility assessment, the details of which will be released shortly.”

When asked if the PTC also plans to operate electric buses, Qayyum replies, “Sure, why not? There will be e-buses, as stated by the CM.

He argues that while electric buses require a major investment, their energy and maintenance efficiency make them a valid choice. “Their strongest feature is that they leave little to no carbon footprint. There is no doubt that PTC’s current fleet is environmentally sustainable, but we will also follow government guidelines when introducing electric buses. The government takes the provision of efficient, passenger-friendly and environmentally friendly public transport in urban areas very seriously.”

He says the PTC will launch a commuter-focused mobile app that would provide information on bus schedules, ride times, routes etc.

The batteries recharge in two hours flat.  In addition, they last 450 kilometers.  — Photos: provided
The batteries recharge in two hours flat. In addition, they last 450 kilometers. — Photos: provided

The CEO of PTC revealed that the company will launch a mobile app for commuters that will provide information on bus schedules, journey times, routes and more..

Mohsin Ali, who commutes daily between Kotha Pind in Faisal town and Shimla Pahari, says he has taken the electric bus a few times and has been happy with it. However, he doesn’t see it as a significant change: “As much as I’m glad we now have green public transport, but I’m not sure it can inspire change.”

According to Abdul Qayyum, the PTC works in tandem with environmental officials to control traffic-related pollution. In addition, smoke-emitting automobiles on provincial highways are constantly monitored.

For Malik Zaheer Abbas, driving a bus powered by charged batteries is a relief. “In Valence, the bus company has set up a battery charging station. The batteries recharge in two hours flat and they last 450 kilometres.

The Sindh government has also launched a fleet of electric buses. It is currently running in test in Karachi. It is expected that more cities will adopt this mode of transport for the public.

That said, newer buses might come with their own set of issues. Dr Muhammad Zaman, founding chair of the sociology department at Quaid-i-Azam University, thinks the best solution to commuters’ woes is to “pool available resources”.

He says that over the years, successive governments have added buses to major cities in Pakistan – in the name of public transport. “They have done the nation no service. Most of these buses have only contributed to traffic jams and air pollution. There is a need to minimize the number of automobiles on our roads, which can only be achieved by combining the resources already in place.

Dr Hassan Shehzad, who is engaged in HEC’s mega project on road safety and public transport, supports the addition of electric buses on Lahore’s roads, calling it a “good sign”. He adds: “A few years ago, Islamabad had the first electric taxi in the country. Also, electric vehicles have been introduced to Margalla Hills to protect the environment. But there are problems to be solved. For example, obstacles caused by excise officers when registering electric vehicles that do not have an engine or engine number. Second, it is necessary to hire professional staff for the new bus service. The cleanliness of the bus stations and the digitization of the ticketing process will make this service sustainable.

The Excise Department plans to register the single battery of electric vehicles in the excise registration documents. The government will look into the matter when more and more electric vehicles hit the city’s roads.

The writer is interested in urban planning and transport issues

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