Like many New Yorkers, for years I have prioritized walking, biking, and using public transportation. Since taking office as Transportation Commissioner, I have been committed to making those travel alternatives safe, affordable, and efficient. However, about half of the families in New York City own at least one car. This situation has led me to take strong measures to minimize the negative effect on the environment and public health.
For years we have heard that electric cars (EVs) are the future. Despite a growing variety of incentives to buy them, the lack of infrastructure for charging has become one of the main reasons why most drivers still prefer vehicles that use fossil fuels, making the rates of acquisition are the lowest in the state and even in the country.
Achieving a greener future for transportation means investing in buses, bikes, and better walkways, and of course, public charging stations for electric cars. That’s why I’m proud that the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) have taken a big step toward expanding access to this technology.
Both agencies announced plans to install around 50 Level 3 fast chargers at 13 different sites. This is significant because while Level 2 chargers have been installed in more than 100 locations around the city in recent years, they take approximately five to eight hours to power up an electric vehicle (EV), while fast chargers from level 3 can charge 80% of the battery in just 20 minutes. The availability of fast chargers is crucial for EV owners as it gives them the confidence that they can quickly charge their batteries, which is especially relevant for high mileage vehicle fleets such as taxis and rental cars. By having access to Level 3 fast chargers, EV owners can significantly reduce charging time, allowing them to be ready in less time and giving them the freedom to drive longer distances without worrying about how long their charge lasts. .
Funded by the state Evolve program, this alliance deserves a special mention due to its magnitude and the impact it will have in terms of equity. Currently, the map of fast chargers in New York City shows limited access in high-income neighborhoods in Manhattan and the inner ring of Brooklyn and Queens. Thanks to this program, the new charging centers are expected to boost accessibility in moderate- and middle-income areas, from Canarsie in Brooklyn, Fordham in the Bronx, and the Rockaways. By ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to these stations, it ensures that more communities, including those with high air pollution loads, high rates of asthma and other medical conditions, can also enjoy these benefits.
As an immigrant who used to work as a taxi driver, I am especially excited to see how these new fast-charging centers will benefit FHV drivers who are also immigrants to the United States. For these drivers, who spend long hours behind the wheel, having access to fast, affordable and efficient charging, especially in the neighborhoods where they live, is critical to making EV ownership practical and profitable. Given that New York City plans to electrify all high-volume rental cars by 2030, and that both the state and many American auto companies have committed to an all-electric future over the next decade, it is he expects these fast charging hubs to experience high demand in the coming years.
But the work still continues.
There is no question that the New York Department of Transportation is leading an effort to expand access to fast charging for electric vehicles. Under Mayor Adams’ “PlaNYC Getting Sustainability Done” climate action plan, the city has committed to having a fast-charging hub within 2.5 miles of all New Yorkers by 2035. The city is working closely with the New York State Power Authority (NYPA) and other partners to build fast-charging hubs in all five boroughs, as well as secure investment from the private sector. Access to fast charging is expected to reach 90%. DOT plans to become the leading fast-charging provider in many parts of the city, including the South Bronx, South Brooklyn, and Southeast Queens. With increasing incentives and falling prices for electric vehicles, fast-charging hubs will become an increasingly viable option for New Yorkers looking to own an electric car.
In that sense, DOT is committed to electric mobility for all and has implemented several initiatives to make it possible. Among them is collaborating with delivery workers using e-bikes to establish safe and convenient public battery charging locations. Electric bike and scooter options are also expanding through partnerships with Citi Bike and the East Bronx E-Scooter program. In addition, work is being done on electric trucks through the Clean Trucks program.
The strategy we have implemented ensures that New York City is positioned as a leader in the electrification of transportation and is a model for equitable access to solutions that contribute to the protection of the environment.
ydanis rodriguez is the Commissioner of Transportation of the New York City. For more information, visit: www.vcf.gov
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