It’s Pedal to the Metal for Electric Vehicle Charging on the UWS

A rendering from the presentation shows the new signage and placement of the port.

By Alex Israel

The NYC Department of Transportation (DOT), the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability (MOS), and Con Edison (ConEd) introduced a plan to install electric vehicle charging ports on the Upper West Side during the September meeting of Community Board 7’s Transportation Committee. 

As part of the Curbside Electric Vehicle Charging Pilot, DOT will install 50 charging ports, each with two chargers, on streets across the city for a four year demonstration. FLO, a private company that, according to its website, operates one of North America’s largest charging networks, will supply the hardware for the electric vehicle charging network. 

In Manhattan, DOT, MOS, and ConEd intend to install a total of eight charging ports across a total of sixteen parking spaces for the pilot program. This includes three ports on the Upper West Side, as well as an additional two ports in Washington Heights and three ports on the Upper East Side. 

The purpose of the program is to evaluate the usefulness of charging ports, to encourage electric vehicle ownership, and to test the feasibility of a larger-scale program, according to Mark Simon, Director of DOT’s Electric Vehicle Policy. He said DOT wants to use it to send an informational message to the city: “This is something that’s coming soon.”

DOT will spend the remainder of 2019 checking for feasibility across a number of sites they have identified as optimal; their analysis is based on a combination of inputs, including data regarding journeys to work, census, and electric vehicle registrations, as well as feedback from elected officials and existing plans from the Department of City Planning, said Simon. The ideal locations for charging points are near major institutions, educational institutes and medical centers, and places with high commercial activity. 

Instructions show how to use the charging ports. Click to enlarge. 

On the Upper West Side, the top locations have been narrowed down to the following: 

Additional considerations are along the east side of Amsterdam Avenue between West 66th–67th Streets and West 64th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and West End Avenue. 

The ‘Level 2’ chargers, which use a 240-volt power source (higher than the ‘Level 1’ chargers you might use in a home garage), will provide about 25 miles of charge per hour, culminating in a full charge in between 4–8 hours. The chargers will operate through a fee-based system comparable to gas prices, starting at $2.50 per hour and payable through the FLO app, per Avi Kahn, the Project Specialist for ConEd’s electric vehicle demonstration program. Spaces selected for charger installation will be designated as ‘no standing zones’ for all non-electric vehicles—and if a car is parked there and not plugged in, the NYPD can issue a ticket. 

The pilot program aims to help deliver on the ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gases in New York City 80 percent by 2050, as proposed in Mayor de Blasio’s 80×50 plan. Adopting electric vehicles is necessary to help reach that goal, said Nate Kimball, Senior Policy Advisor at the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. 

Right now, transportation makes up 30 percent of citywide greenhouse gas emissions—and 83 percent of that comes from passenger cars, according to Kimball. Ideally, MOS wants to get people out of cars and into the various forms of public transportation offered throughout the city. But eliminating passenger vehicles completely just isn’t realistic. 

By 2025, MOS hopes to see 20 percent of new vehicles registered be electric. In order to get there, the implementation and normalization of electric chargers is key. “Without it, it’s like having a city without anywhere to get gas,” Kimball said. 

The charts illustrate the current breakdowns of emissions in NYC. Click to enlarge. 

Before passing a resolution in approval of the pilot, some Community Board 7 Committee members and local residents discussed their issues with the program. 

“I think the city should use all of its efforts to promote environmentally friendly transit,” said committee chair Howard Yaruss, the only member who voted against the resolution. “Sure, [the chargers] would get someone to go from gas to electric, but all of our efforts should go towards public transit.” 

One resident said he felt the pilot plan was “silly,” pointing to the DOT’s decision to create more opportunities for passenger vehicles. “It feels like we’re still focused on incentivizing car ownership,” he said. 

“I wouldn’t say this is our focus. This is one project that we’re working on,” responded Felicia Tunnah, Assistant Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at DOT, in defense of the proposal. “If you have to use a vehicle we want to encourage electric.”

The committee resolution will be up for a vote during the next full board meeting on October 2, 2019. Based on the projected timeline and tentative buy-in from all relevant parties, the charging ports are set to be installed in Spring 2020. 

In the meantime, residents can learn more, share feedback, and suggest locations for curbside charging across the city on the DOT website: nyc.gov/charge

NEWS | 31 comments | permalink
    1. ben says:

      What are the chances that these charging spots get hogged all day by gas guzzling SUVs?

    2. powerless says:

      First a bike lane, now these chargers. All to make the city greener while our mayor jets around the country on his pathetic presidential campaign and drives his SUV to “exercise” in Brooklyn. I’m sure this makes sense to someone – but not to me.

    3. Paul says:

      25 miles for 1 hour of charging?
      Sorry, that only makes electric vehicles look really bad.

      And at $2.50/hour it’s more expensive than a gallon of gas for a Corolla.

      How is this justifiable?

      • Paul says:

        Just to be clear,
        If in fact the charge is 2.50 per hour and an hour yields 25 miles this is a gouge.
        Electric is supposed to yield the equivalent of 80 – 100 miles per gallon, and this charge yields 25 – 30.

        Devoting public space for this is outrageous.

      • Ari says:

        Compared to the average 22 MPG NYC car, an EV charged on these chargers are cheaper.

        And compared to a Corolla an EV has quieter, smoother ride with better acceleration.

      • Jay says:

        Promoting burning fewer fossil fuels is good for you and your neighbors. That’s how its justified.

        • Paul says:

          At this price and at 25 miles per hour of charging if anything the effort to convert to electric cars will be harmed.

          • Jay says:

            That makes zero sense.

            • Paul says:

              That makes zero sense? Sorry, it’s common sense.

              People seeing how this works in practice will opt for hybrids or conventional cars.
              If you have a garage and can plug your car in every night electric makes total sense.

              If you have to wait for a charging station and spend an hour at the station (plus the wait) to make a round trip to the Bronx, you’ll continue driving cars that need gas. Hopefully it’ll be a small hybrid.

              BTW: where do the drivers waiting for their hour at the charging station sit while waiting for the cars being charged to finish their hour? Double parked, perhaps?

              This is a non-starter.

            • Jay says:

              It’s not common sense to go out and buy a $30K vehicle solely on the basis of using these spots for one hour. That’s not the point of this program.

              These spots are to provide people with additional options for charging their vehicles for a short time.

              Get ready. It’s starting. Better get used to all those bike lanes and incentives for electric cars.

      • Jim says:

        $2.50 per hour is a rip-off. If NYC really wants to promote electric vehicles, they should partner with companies that will offer free charging at designated locations. This is done at numerous small towns, colleges and hotels.

    4. ST says:

      As usual entrenched CB7 does nothing for the UWS besides give away parking spots to special interests.

    5. bloveiv says:

      Pretty words, but where does CB7 think the electricity for these chargers and cars comes from? Fossil fuels or nuclear or wind or solar?

    6. My man says:

      I dont live anywhere near these proposed locations or CPW but we really need resident based parking if we’re going to keep cutting parking spots for this and a bike lane. Tonight, well after working hours, I counted 6 cars with NJ plates on one side of my block. Street parking should only be for people that live here. Enough is enough.

      • B.B. says:

        Am willing to bet four, five, or even all six of those vehicles with NJ plates “live” on UWS.

        While residents of NYS/NYC are supposed to by law register their vehicles here, large numbers do not. Instead they choose NJ, Conn, PA, North Carolina, Florida, etc… any place else but in order to have lower insurance rates.

        Unless things have changed no one in Albany, the courts or any place else in authority largely cares: https://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/03/nyregion/living-here-but-registered-there-new-yorkers-dodge-high-fees-with-state-license.html

        • Denton says:

          That article is from 2003 and a lot has changed. Manhattan insurance is very cheap now if you have a good record. I was surprised that my insurance went down when I moved to Manhattan from Brooklyn. I even asked the agent why and she said that no one actually drives around since they will lose their spot lol.

          For example, I have an F150 pickup truck with full coverage, and 100/300k liability (much more than the minimum) and I pay $750 a year. I also have a high performance older BMW convertible 2 seat sports car, with only liability (100/300k). $500/year.

          • B.B. says:

            Rates may have dropped but that is also very subjective. Much depends upon individual’s driving record, credit score/history, etc….

            Hence again you still have many persons who live in NYC that register their vehicles out of state.

            This goes along with those who refuse to get a NYS drivers license as well. Something also required by law of city residents. When renewal time comes they go back to whatever home state issued license and get things done.

            Other large group you see parking on UWS, UES, etc… streets with out of state plates are building workers (doormen, porters, etc…) and or those who drive into city for work.

    7. Amy says:

      The locations of these charging stations are all relatively high income areas where people might be able to afford a new electric car rather than maintain an old car. This does nothing for the vast majority of New Yorkers who use public transportation. Put your money there, if you care about a greener NYC.

      • Jim says:

        Setting up EV chargers is one of the many things that can be done to help to sped the transition to quiet, clean and efficient vehicles, and reduce NYC’s carbon footprint. Yes, we should be improving mass transit but we can and should do both.

    8. Marilyn says:

      Yet they once again cut bus service on M5 & M104, so do they really want people to use public transport?

    9. your_neighbor says:

      If there are no time limits on these chargers people will just plug in and keep their cars there for hours at a time for the $2.50 per hour. Parking meters in this neighborhood charge $3.50 an hour with generally a 2 hour limit so staying parked at a charger basically gives you free electricity AND a discount on street parking.

      Can someone please get us residential parking permits already!

    10. John says:

      The space should be metered on top of the electric fee unless the electric company is splitting the 2.50 an hour with the tax payers which own the parking spot.

    11. DK10 says:

      Won’t somebody think of the precious free parking spots!? What will the cheap entitled but actually wealthy UWSers do?

    12. Martin says:

      Cue the obnoxious meltdowns over lack of parking spaces in 3…2….1…

    13. The chargers should go in between parking spaces as in Paris, not on the sidewalk.

    14. SM says:

      “The ideal locations for charging points are near major institutions, educational institutes and medical centers, and places with high commercial activity.”

      How does W86th between Riverside and WEA meet any of these criteria?

    15. Shon O'Toole says:

      NYC is rich with foundations and Billionaires so the City should use Non-Profits like “Adopt-a-Charger”, get private funding and go crazy putting in NON-Payment EV Charging everywhere and especially in the lower income areas to motivate transfer from ICE to EV’s. This demo is a start but not well planned for the Richest City in the USA. California has EV everywhere.

    16. Neil B says:

      Why not set up “Parking Lots” open space on the east side & west side that could accommodate hundreds of cars for charging…