The Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry has announced that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government has been working on a plan to convert public transport into electric vehicles in metropolitan cities. This announcement was made with reference to the government’s agreement with the British company EGV to build electric buses locally, to signify that the government’s investment in transforming the public transport sector into electric was serious and long-term. After building the electric vehicle charging station in Islamabad, the government plans to install EV charging stations on motorways across the country. According to Mr Chaudhry, 40 percent of public transport buses would be shifted to electricity in 10 years.

No infrastructure announcement in politics is complete without taking a dig at your opponents—the Minister criticised Shehbaz Sharif for launching the Orange Line Metro Train project for which the government had to pay a Rs12bn subsidy. However, this is not just a political point—it is an actual issue that the current government should have evaluated and been smart about financially.

Switching to the electric system was the right thing to do—the EV industry has the potential to contribute significantly to the economy by saving precious foreign exchange, creating thousands of jobs, and also is much more environment-friendly. Yet for a public transport system like Pakistan’s to transform entirely to EV requires consistent policy support and a reliable grid. The government switching to EV right after completing major transit projects such as BRT is poor planning—it results in double costs to the public transport budget.

Regardless of the poor planning, switching to EV was inevitable—it needs to continue on the provincial level as well but in a smart, effective and coordinated way.