Aug 29, 2023
Readers want it to be easier to own an electric car in Boston
By Zipporah Osei Boston officials believe a more energy-efficient city will include more residents driving electric vehicles. But to get there, the city will need to increase the number of charging
By Zipporah Osei
Boston officials believe a more energy-efficient city will include more residents driving electric vehicles. But to get there, the city will need to increase the number of charging stations and locate them in more neighborhoods.
Two open bids aim to make that happen. Within a year’s time, Boston would like more private and city-owned curbside charging stations in Brighton, Allston, Hyde Park, Dorchester, and Roxbury. Currently, most of the city’s charging stations are concentrated in Central Boston, Seaport, Fenway, and Beacon Hill.
We asked Boston.com readers if they support Mayor Michelle Wu’s push for more EV charging stations and the majority of the 223 readers polled said yes, the city should install more charging stations.
“The more convenient the government makes electric charging, the more people will buy electric cars,” said Daniel M. from Waltham.
A 2021 poll conducted by Boston-based Green Energy Consumers Alliance and Seattle-based clean energy activist group Coltura, found that 56% of Massachusetts voters planned to buy an electric vehicle in the next five years. In Boston.com’s poll, 38% of readers said they already drive an electric vehicle, while another 16% said they would if they had better access to charging stations.
Electric adoption is a priority not just in Boston but across the Commonwealth. Massachusetts has a goal of getting nearly 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030, but that can’t happen without improved charging accessibility.
In Cambridge, officials have been focused on increasing the number of residents driving electric cars for at least five years, according to Kathy Watkins, the city’s commissioner of public works. The work began with more chargers in city parking lots and converting the municipal fleet to electric vehicles.
“Cambridge has a significant commitment to addressing climate change, both in terms of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions as well as looking at adaptation,” Watkins told Boston.com. “And so as we think about, you know, reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, obviously transportation is a large part of that.”
Now, the city is testing a pilot that allows electric charging across sidewalks, as long as a ramp or swing arm is used to ensure compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Watkins said the city hopes to “support the transition to cleaner vehicles.”
“People aren’t going to always charge at home are always charge at work and so it’s really piecing together all these different charging options to give people more comfort,” she said. As of now, the city has received six applications from residents looking for sidewalk charging permits.
Other municipalities have experimented with other pilots for EV users. In Melrose, city officials worked with National Grid to mount chargers on city power poles. Earlier this year, Easthampton partnered with MoveEV, a Somerville-based company to switch all municipal-use vehicles to EVs and offer financial incentives to employees who made the switch personally.
Here in Boston, officials are following a “Zero-Emission Vehicle Roadmap,” meant to “accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles and other zero-emission transportation.” But even those who are excited about the city’s efforts to increase charging options say Boston has more work to do.
Firstly, readers told Boston.com they would like to see the city install more supercharger stations that allow for quick charging, instead of the Level 2 stations that require hours of continuous charging. Another complaint is the concentration of stations. Bryce C., an electric car owner who lives in the South End, said the city is neglecting certain neighborhoods.
“The City of Boston’s plan is stunning in its complete abandonment of the South End. Why is the South End being ignored when the need for EV chargers is so great in our neighborhood?” Bryce C. asked. “There are a multitude of EV drivers in the South End. And the number of public chargers in the South End? Zero!”
Below you’ll find more responses from readers sharing their thoughts on the push to bring more electric vehicles to Boston and beyond.
Some responses have been edited for length or clarity.
“It is one thing that can be done. As a driver of an electric car, I seek out locations in the city to dine and shop based on their EV chargers. The Seaport has several garages with charging stations, so I go there. It makes sense to move forward in this direction.” — Michael D., Chestnut Hill
“Current stations in parking lots are often being used, or occupied by non-EVs. It is really difficult to find charging in public places and will be a major barrier to widespread adaptation. Unless the city takes action to protect the chargers we have and add more, it will remain difficult to own an EV in Boston.” — Dylan H., South Boston
“This is definitely needed. Not everyone can install a charger at their house or apartment, and it’s an inconvenience to leave your neighborhood to go find one outside your town.” — Michel, Hyde Park
“I think it will encourage people to go electric and that is good for the environment. We need to combat climate change and fewer gas-powered cars on the streets is a step in the right direction.” — Morgan P., Back Bay
“I would love to have access to more chargers when I go into Boston. It would’ve great to be able to park and charge while I’m enjoying the city.” — Chris G., Malden
“I’m one of the lucky ones with a private parking space so I can trickle charge my car at home. Most residents don’t have that, or they are in buildings that are not willing to accommodate EVs. Public charging stations or private ones in public spaces will make it possible for residents and visitors alike to drive an EV without having a private space. We also need to mandate that these large condo and apartment buildings accommodate EV charging.” — Terri-Lynn M., Boston
“They will probably not be used as the adoption rate of EVs will take quite a while until the price comes down.” — Stan, Jamaica Plain
“Cost is being glossed over. The amount of money to be fronted and then paid back on construction and electrical costs gets passed on to who? Sure the person charging pays for the electricity and some premium but it’s not enough. Expensive city getting more expensive.” — John, Shrewsbury
“I think it will limit parking for those that don’t own electric cars. Parking is already an issue between bike lanes, Blue Bikes and so much construction in the city.” — Matt, Roslindale
“Short-sighted. EVs are not the environmentally friendly solution they’re made out to be. Mining rare earth minerals largely in countries with suspect human rights, disposing of spent batteries, not to mention the fossil fuels used to power the charging stations. Massive tree hugger, global thinker, local actor here but EVs are a hard pass for me.” — Jimmy, Quincy
“They will probably be a maintenance nightmare and break down all the time. They’re expensive and would be paid for by everybody to support what even the most optimistic predictions say would be a tiny fraction of drivers. Ultimately, EVs are not the answer. They may produce less on-site pollution, but they cause more wear on roadways due to their weight and lead to exactly the same traffic and pedestrian hazards as any other car. We should be spending our resources improving mass transit instead of investing in more infrastructure for private vehicles.” — Charlie H., South End
Boston.com occasionally interacts with readers by conducting informal polls and surveys. These results should be read as an unscientific gauge of readers’ opinion.
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Be civil. Be kind.‘Fewer gas-powered cars on the streets is a step in the right direction‘Ultimately, EVs are not the answer’