Curbside electric vehicle chargers installed on the Upper East Side are a hit with EV drivers. According to the New York City Department of Transportation, the three charging stations located east of Park Avenue, which can accommodate six vehicles simultaneously, are among the busiest not only in Manhattan but across the five boroughs.
“The data is clear: New Yorkers love curbside Level 2 EV charging and our equitable distribution of infrastructure brought promising usage across communities,” said DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez, “Our chargers have proven to be reliable and resilient, with solid uptake across the city.”
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Located on East End Avenue (which the DOT incorrectly labeled in its report as East End Drive) between East 87th and 88th Streets outside Carl Schurz Park, East 78th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues, and on East 67th Street by York Avenue, near neighborhood hospitals, the Upper East Side’s three EV charging stations were installed in August 2021 as part of the PlugNYC pilot program in partnership with Con Edison meant to encourage EV ownership in NYC.
Almost immediately after crews installed the Level 2 chargers — which provide up to 20 miles of range per hour — owners of gas-powered cars began selfishly parking in the reserved charging spaces, Upper East Site first reported nearly two years ago.
The DOT report states that blocked charging stations remain one of the program’s biggest challenges. According to the agency, NYPD traffic agents wrote over 3,200 tickets for gas-powered cars illegally parking in the spaces.
Longtime Upper East Side resident and Tesla owner Sam Globus told Upper East Site this week that blocked chargers are his main gripe with the pilot program but called the installations “very helpful,” adding that the NYPD “should step up enforcement.”
The PlugNYC charging station on East 78th Street faced its own unique set of problems. Access is blocked on weekdays from 7:00 am until 4:00 pm during the Allen-Stevenson School’s controversial ‘OpenStreets’ closure. Cars can use chargers during that time; however, drivers must speak to the security guard stationed on Park Avenue to get to them.
Despite those obstacles, the UES charging stations on East End and East 78th Street provided more than 4,000 kilowatts of energy to EV drivers last December — the most recent data available — with 69% and 64% utilization rates, respectively. DOT says the average charging session on the Upper East Side was three to four hours, providing approximately 60 to 80 miles of range from the Level 2 chargers.
“[I’m a] big fan of them and would like the city to add more. My main complaint is they are relatively slow chargers,” explained Globus, who said he “would love to see them add Level 3 chargers.”
Also known as Direct Current Fast Charging, DCFC Level 3 stations have become the standard for new electric vehicles produced and sold in the United States and can refill a car’s battery at 10 to 20 times the speed of a Level 2 charger or more.
DOT installed DCFC stations in some city-owned garages, including four on the Lower East Side. There are also new fast-charging hubs for municipal parking fields in the future; however, since they require more robust infrastructure to provide a high voltage, DCFC is an unlikely candidate for curbside installations.
“This first-in-the-nation study shows that the demand for electric vehicles is real, and the transition is possible,” said Mayor Eric Adams, “Our administration is meeting New Yorkers where they are with electric vehicle chargers because the climate crisis is urgent, and the time for action is now.”
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Though the agency will continue monitoring the 50 curbside Level 2 charging stations installed across the city to analyze usage patterns, the report does not mention any plans to expand the pilot program. Instead, DOT notes that it has committed to adding 1,100 Level 2 chargers to its facilities.
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