Can Pakistan's electric buses reduce urban air pollution woes?
(Context, 13 Mar 2023) Karachi is investing in electric and non-polluting transport as the country seeks to cut emissions and curb climate change.
For Karachi-based Raja Kamran, swapping his motorcycle commute for Pakistan's first-ever electric bus service has saved cash - and helped him avoid some of the city's pollution.
A small fleet of fully electric buses started operating in the country's financial capital in January as part of a government drive to cut worsening air pollution produced by vehicles and industry, power plants and brick kilns, as well as the burning of solid waste.
"The electric bus service has not only decreased my weekly travelling costs, but also helped (with) my ... health problems," the 50-year-old journalist said by phone, noting that he had suffered back pain while riding his motorcyle to work.
However, Kamran said there were not enough e-buses - only 10 of the initial fleet of 50 are currently running - and that he sometimes had to wait 45 minutes to catch one of them.
Urban air pollution is a major and longstanding problem across Pakistan, with the country ranking third worldwide out of 118 nations for worst air quality in 2021, according to IQAir, a Swiss pollution technology company.