Infrastructure for Personal Electric Vehicles (non-autonomous) in Boston

bigpicture7

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I wasn't sure whether to start a new thread for this, but couldn't quite see where it would fit into an existing one. Mods, please move if appropriate.

The topic I want to raise: barriers to / enablers of the replacement of personally-owned gas vehicles with electric vehicles (or other alternative) among those living in cities/Boston.

Impetus: Massachusetts to require all new cars sold to be electric by 2035.
While, research shows that lack of electric charging stations on urban residential streets to be a barrier to electric vehicle adoption.

Buying an electric car is becoming no big deal for suburbanites with garages or those with permanent off-street parking/shared garage parking. But what about those who depend on street parking? As it is, people literally fight over spots / the space-saver wars rage during winter here. It's hard to imagine enough charging stations spread throughout residential urban streets to match the number of parking spots. Would a dearth of charging ports cause all out parking space wars / or seriously thwart electric vehicle adoption?

Possible futures:
Instead of prompting an exchanging of vehicle types, electric vehicle policy results in a quicker shedding of cars (in general) by urbanites in exchange for rideshare/zipcar/etc?
Lower income urban car owners are forced to drive older and older gas vehicles, as the new/late-model-used market for gas vehicles disappears?
...Or (seems unlikely) plentiful charging stations abound!
...Or (seems unlikely) our dream public transit system is funded and everyone ditches their cars.

Or (most likely) some other futures / interesting hybrids?

I am sure there are those on this board who have studied this. I just wasn't sure where to find this discussion if it already took place on here.
In essence: What other policy/infrastructure needs to be implemented in the near term?
 

JeffDowntown

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Two other options, one really promising and one not so great.

PHEVs dominate and mostly charge via onboard gasoline engine (this is not great, and recent studies suggest this happens a lot more often than realized). The reason this is not great is that you get no where close to the reduction in emissions that are touted for these vehicles if they mostly charge via onboard engine capacity.

Ultrafast charge EVs come on the market. Recent advances suggest EV batteries that can be charged in 10 minutes (top off charge in 5 minutes) may hit the market within 5 years. With those you don't need an EV parking space in the city for charging, you need a local service station.
 

Bananarama

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+1 for the fast charging future. I think that's really where most of these issues will be solved. Coupled with ballooning ranges and they'll be practically at parity with the ICE routine. Plus you get the benefit of easier to install and distribute fuel source points (garage/lot/streetside chargers instead of dedicated stations with much more substantial infrastructure)
 

bigpicture7

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Great point about fast charging being the game-changing technology for urban adoption of EVs. Though not nearly to the extent of one-per-parking space, It still seems like a substantial infrastructure roll-out will need to correspond with the EV mandate.
 

shmessy

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I wasn't sure whether to start a new thread for this, but couldn't quite see where it would fit into an existing one. Mods, please move if appropriate.

The topic I want to raise: barriers to / enablers of the replacement of personally-owned gas vehicles with electric vehicles (or other alternative) among those living in cities/Boston.

Impetus: Massachusetts to require all new cars sold to be electric by 2035.
While, research shows that lack of electric charging stations on urban residential streets to be a barrier to electric vehicle adoption.

Buying an electric car is becoming no big deal for suburbanites with garages or those with permanent off-street parking/shared garage parking. But what about those who depend on street parking? As it is, people literally fight over spots / the space-saver wars rage during winter here. It's hard to imagine enough charging stations spread throughout residential urban streets to match the number of parking spots. Would a dearth of charging ports cause all out parking space wars / or seriously thwart electric vehicle adoption?

Possible futures:
Instead of prompting an exchanging of vehicle types, electric vehicle policy results in a quicker shedding of cars (in general) by urbanites in exchange for rideshare/zipcar/etc?
Lower income urban car owners are forced to drive older and older gas vehicles, as the new/late-model-used market for gas vehicles disappears?
...Or (seems unlikely) plentiful charging stations abound!
...Or (seems unlikely) our dream public transit system is funded and everyone ditches their cars.

Or (most likely) some other futures / interesting hybrids?

I am sure there are those on this board who have studied this. I just wasn't sure where to find this discussion if it already took place on here.
In essence: What other policy/infrastructure needs to be implemented in the near term?

Answer: In Boston, it will all be autonomous pods you order on demand from your cellphone (or however we communicate) with a subscription hopefully sometime by 2035-2045+. So needing a spacious garage won’t be an issue for city dwellers. There will also be no parking spaces. Just pickup and dropoff points.

Suburbs and rural will be human driver electric, however.
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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Answer: In Boston, it will all be autonomous pods you order on demand from your cellphone (or however we communicate) with a subscription hopefully sometime by 2035-2045+. So needing a spacious garage won’t be an issue for city dwellers. There will also be no parking spaces. Just pickup and dropoff points.

Suburbs and rural will be human driver electric, however.
Great...that's so totally not the question posed or explicitly namechecked in the thread title. Could we please keep the autonomous driving evangelism to the containment-vessel thread specifically designed for that brand of fight clubbing?


"WHAR CHARGE TESLA IN TEH CITY...WHAR?"
 

jlichyen

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As someone who is largely ignorant on this specific subject, is it possible for parking meters to be replaced by or expanded with charging stations? Say, you park your car at a station and the meter charges your account based on the time & charge you put into your vehicle?

The solutions, to me, seem obvious as an extension of parking meter infrastructure, combined with credit card & smartphone adoption - though the latter would likely be a big issue in low-income neighborhoods.
 

JeffDowntown

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As someone who is largely ignorant on this specific subject, is it possible for parking meters to be replaced by or expanded with charging stations? Say, you park your car at a station and the meter charges your account based on the time & charge you put into your vehicle?

The solutions, to me, seem obvious as an extension of parking meter infrastructure, combined with credit card & smartphone adoption - though the latter would likely be a big issue in low-income neighborhoods.
You need a high power feed to a charging point. We are talking about a lot of energy being transferred during charging.

Most parking meters have no power feed, they run on batteries.
 

shmessy

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Great...that's so totally not the question posed or explicitly namechecked in the thread title. Could we please keep the autonomous driving evangelism to the containment-vessel thread specifically designed for that brand of fight clubbing?


"WHAR CHARGE TESLA IN TEH CITY...WHAR?"

It was in DIRECT relevance to the original poster's well thought out concern that:

" Buying an electric car is becoming no big deal for suburbanites with garages or those with permanent off-street parking/shared garage parking. But what about those who depend on street parking?". As it is, people literally fight over spots / the space-saver wars rage during winter here. It's hard to imagine enough charging stations spread throughout residential urban streets to match the number of parking spots. Would a dearth of charging ports cause all out parking space wars / or seriously thwart electric vehicle adoption?

BP7 then lists several possible futures, ending with " Or (most likely) some other futures / interesting hybrids?

My post directly addressed that. BP7's very topic question was 'what happens with this, in light of the announced 2035 requirement?' My opinion was that the city of Boston should plan for it not being an issue in 2035 because it should more efficiently direct funds that normally would go to privately kept car infrastructure and focus on the non-garaging/space holding residents, while in the near term investing on expanding Uber/Zip Car, type services. etc.

The post was 100% relevant. Just because you disagree with the opinion doesn't automatically make it irrelevant to what the OP asked. It may just be the opinion you don't hold. Fine.

There was no "brand of fight clubbing". People come here to learn and freely share ideas without the internet bullying.
 
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bigpicture7

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Hi folks, I really wasn't trying to start a fight with this thread. I was hoping to keep the discussion centered on implications for city dwellers' personal vehicle ownership into the future (& associated infrastructure). Shmessy's input does indeed relate to one possible future: a dramatic reduction/elimination of any sort of personal vehicle ownership in cities in the 2035+ timeframe due to a hard pivot to autonomous. That is on the table (& we have a thread for that), but I'd prefer to keep this thread centered on the 'what ifs' tied to some sort of non-trivial sustained level of personal vehicle ownership continuing in cities - not because that is my desired state or that I can predict the future, but rather, for curiosity's sake surrounding 'what would it involve?'

We might determine, for instance, that 'what would it involve' turns out to be ridiculous, at which point this thread can be retired : )

Lastly, I'll just point out that the state is pursuing the type of infrastructure I inquire about (per the Globe article cited above; emphasis mine):
The state also plans to support building electric-vehicle charging infrastructure over the next decade to facilitate the transition to those vehicles, as passenger vehicles are now responsible for 27 percent of statewide emissions. Officials acknowledged charging may be a challenge for people without dedicated parking spaces, so public charging stations will be crucial.
So, whether we agree with it or not, it is being pursued...so my inquiry centers on: what should this infrastructure look like?
 
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shmessy

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Hi folks, I really wasn't trying to start a fight with this thread. I was hoping to keep the discussion centered on implications for city dwellers' personal vehicle ownership into the future (& associated infrastructure). Shmessy's input does indeed relate to one possible future: a dramatic reduction/elimination of any sort of personal vehicle ownership in cities in the 2035+ timeframe due to a hard pivot to autonomous. That is on the table (& we have a thread for that), but I'd prefer to keep this thread centered on the 'what ifs' tied to some sort of non-trivial sustained level of personal vehicle ownership continuing in cities - not because that is my desired state or that I can predict the future, but rather, for curiosity's sake surrounding 'what would it involve?'

We might determine, for instance, that 'what would it involve' turns out to be ridiculous, at which point this thread can be retired : )

Lastly, I'll just point out that the state is pursuing the type of infrastructure I inquire about (per the Globe article cited above; emphasis mine):


So, whether we agree with it or not, it is being pursued...so my inquiry centers on: what should this infrastructure look like?
BP7, I think the key words in your link there is that the "STATE also plans to support...." along with the challenges in urban areas that you bolded. That is the crux. The very different physical environments (along with the very different lifestyles and outlooks of suburban/rural residents vs. city residents). I would be interested to see what level the City of Boston is planning and for what time frame for EV charging stations/spots.

Suburban/rural will be relatively easy to envision with mainly in-home and a few large installations at highway rest areas, shopping centers, gas stations (the under-5 minute charging possibilities discussed above would make it pretty similar to a driver than today's gas-up). However, Boston? How frequently does one even see a gas station in Boston? (Here's where I'd be interested to hear what Suffolk83's experience is - my guess is perhaps he isn't downtown, but in an area that may become far more dense and urban in the future?) There will have to be some level of ingenuity and lifestyle changes (although many urban dwellers have already begun making those changes). The population of Boston will continue to rise due to the demographic explosion of the over 65+ with discretionary income group. Space will become even more scarce (just look at any overhead view from 1990-2020 and marvel at the thousands of acres of parking lot disappearance). I'm done mentioning my future solution opinion and will respectfully save it for the other thread. But your question is a very central and fascinating one that will have to be addressed in the surprisingly near future.

There is so much out there evolving as we speak. MIT is doing some fascinating work on it with their Mobility Initiative: https://www.mobilityinitiative.mit.edu/research
 
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jlichyen

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You need a high power feed to a charging point. We are talking about a lot of energy being transferred during charging.

Most parking meters have no power feed, they run on batteries.
I figured as much. Basically, every parking meter would require a very high power feed installed, with the requisite electric capacity brought online.

So unless the batteries can recharge in record time, or the city invests in a huge new recharging infrastructure, on-street parking becomes much less valuable for auto storage.
 

millerm277

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I suppose I'll throw some ideas/opinions out there, just working with "current" tech.

The Porsche Taycan can go from 5 to 80% charge in ~22min at 270kW, Ionity chargers in the EU can deliver it. As this is an actual production vehicle being sold in some quantity today, it seems reasonable to think that's a level that can be matched in other vehicles in the relatively near future. That feels "fast enough" to work with.

- I could see existing metered parking in downtown areas being "worth" upgrading with chargers. The payment scheme that already supports paying for the parking can have an option for if you want to charge or not while you're there. Or maybe it's mandatory. High-turnover areas also make more sense for that kind of infrastructure investment in general. Charging multiple cars in a day is a better return on investment (and presumably, more financially viable) than just charging one overnight.

- I don't think you're going to line every on-street parking space in the city with chargers. That'd be a hell of a lot of equipment/infrastructure/maintenance.

- What seems more plausible to me is having a certain frequency of charging infrastructure scattered through the neighborhoods, though. One space per block or X number of blocks with say....a 30min parking limit and a quick charger, car must be plugged in and authorized to charge to be in the space, seems a lot more feasible to implement than chargers at every space.
 

JumboBuc

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The question of how to charge street-parked EVs is a very good one, but I think it applies much more to resident parking than meter parking. Cars typically sit at meters for one or two hours max, but spend 12+ hours a day parked at "home." It's no big deal if you can't charge at a meter, but it'd be a serious inconvenience to never be able to charge at home.

It's also important to note that fast charging / "super charging" EV batteries is actually somewhat harmful to the batteries themselves, and EV makers recommend only doing so in the limited occasions when you're middle of a trip and need to fill up fast. The same goes for charging EV batteries to 100%. Best practice is to charge batteries slowly, and to stop before they hit 100%. So any solution that is framed around quick-charging batteries and not hours-long slow charges is probably not the best in the long run.
 
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dshoost88

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I bought a Kia Niro EV one year ago and am happy to chime in about this.

I live in Everett and have an off-street parking spot. The vehicle has a 250+ mile range (longer in summer, less in winter mode). It takes ~50 hours to charge the car from empty to full battery on a traditional, Level 1 charger (i.e. standard plug in the wall). Last summer we paid ~$1,300 to have a Level 2 charger installed ($700 for the charger, $600 for the professional install); it now takes 7-8 hours to charge from empty to full battery. In 1 year of ownership, the time to charge the vehicle has not been a barrier to my travel needs. I use to wonder about the need for DC Fast Charge stations (typically 50%-80% battery charge in 30 minutes for most EV's), but experientially I think it's mostly unnecessary... especially as the range these vehicles travel continues to climb.

Boston actually has metered spaces on Cambridge Street for Electric Vehicles, including Level 2 fast charging (adjacent to the Bowdoin T station). Although I haven't seen on-street spaces like these in a lot of places, I will say that I'm a fan. To park on-street for two hours and get ~70 miles of range during that time frame is pretty cool.

With the trend for reconsideration of our streets and travel network to better accommodate people across all modes of travel, I think the trend will be for fewer on-street parking spaces citywide overall and a prioritization of encouraging off-street parking where possible. Many of the parking garages I've gone to in Boston and beyond have ample Level 2 vehicle-charging spaces--and not only at newer garages, but also old ones.

National Grid has provided good guidance for homeowners and small businesses that want to install electric vehicle charging infrastructure. And MassDEP announced several Air Quality Grants explicitly for EV charging infrastructure and technical assistance. I think policies like these are moving the needle, but the trick for them to catch on boils down to education.

One last note: I test drove a Tesla Model X in December for my birthday, and I was pretty underwhelmed. Not because I think it's a bad car, but because I realized how much more value I get from my Kia Niro EV. I was reassured over the weekend by this Inside Hook article that validated my satisfaction with the vehicle, yet cars like the Kia Niro EV or Hyundai Kona don't get a fraction of the attention or brand awareness of the Teslas. I think the future is bright for EV and the introduction of more EV's to the market will normalize it a bit more. I'm most excited about the impending remediation and redevelopment of gas stations around Boston (and the world) into more forward-looking development.
 

JeffDowntown

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The question of how to charge street-parked EVs is a very good one, but I think it applies much more to resident parking than meter parking. Cars typically sit at meters for one or two hours max, but spend 12+ hours a day parked at "home." It's no big deal if you can't charge at a meter, but it'd be a serious inconvenience to never be able to charge at home.

It's also important to note that fast charging / "super charging" EV batteries is actually somewhat harmful to the batteries themselves, and EV makers recommend only doing so in the limited occasions when you're middle of a trip and need to fill up fast. The same goes for charging EV batteries to 100%. Best practice is to charge batteries slowly, and to stop before they hit 100%. So any solution that is framed around quick-charging batteries and not hours-long slow charges is probably not the best in the long run.
True for current battery systems. New systems claim to dramatically reduce the damage of fast charge.

https://www.theguardian.com/environ...es-race-ahead-with-five-minute-charging-times
 

bigpicture7

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The question of how to charge street-parked EVs is a very good one, but I think it applies much more to resident parking than meter parking. Cars typically sit at meters for one or two hours max, but spend 12+ hours a day parked at "home." It's no big deal if you can't charge at a meter, but it'd be a serious inconvenience to never be able to charge at home...
Totally agree. And in particular, I think this is going to matter significantly for those in the densely populated somewhat-outlying Boston neighborhoods (Allston/brighton, Dot, Rox, parts of Southie, etc) where you've got multi-unit buildings with no off-street parking and resident-only (non-metered) permit street parking. There are a lot of folks there (myself included when I was in Brighton) who parked on the street and had to cross my fingers I'd be able to find a spot near home just to be able to ditch my car, let alone worry about being able to charge it.

What Suffolk83 says above resonates strongly: my wife and I would definitely have liked to consider an EV, but the stress of how to park & charge just made it a non-starter. We're fortunate to not need our car daily, and thus a totally car-free lifestyle change is in the realm of possible, but that's unfortunately not possible for everyone. I do think it will push more folks car-free, though, which is a good thing.

I appreciate what real_EthanHunt shared about new construction policies, and I can see that making a big difference in the urban core. But there are a TON of resident-only on-street parking spaces in the outlying dense neighborhoods (i.e., those that are already filled with older construction) where that particular piece of policy seems as though it won't have a huge impact. It seems there will need to be other new policy designed and rolled out in the near future to complement it.
 

JeffDowntown

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Totally agree. And in particular, I think this is going to matter significantly for those in the densely populated somewhat-outlying Boston neighborhoods (Allston/brighton, Dot, Rox, parts of Southie, etc) where you've got multi-unit buildings with no off-street parking and resident-only (non-metered) permit street parking. There are a lot of folks there (myself included when I was in Brighton) who parked on the street and had to cross my fingers I'd be able to find a spot near home just to be able to ditch my car, let alone worry about being able to charge it.

What Suffolk83 says above resonates strongly: my wife and I would definitely have liked to consider an EV, but the stress of how to park & charge just made it a non-starter. We're fortunate to not need our car daily, and thus a totally car-free lifestyle change is in the realm of possible, but that's unfortunately not possible for everyone. I do think it will push more folks car-free, though, which is a good thing.

I appreciate what real_EthanHunt shared about new construction policies, and I can see that making a big difference in the urban core. But there are a TON of resident-only on-street parking spaces in the outlying dense neighborhoods (i.e., those that are already filled with older construction) where that particular piece of policy seems as though it won't have a huge impact. It seems there will need to be other new policy designed and rolled out in the near future to complement it.
If the policy here plays out like is has in the few locations with plans on the books, they will likely count PHEVs as electric vehicles. So what will happen is a lot of people who street park are going to end up charging their vehicles using the onboard gasoline engine. Which, of course, defeats the purpose of the EV policy.
 

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