NYC Council Members James Vacca and Mark Weprin are introducing a package of bills designed to spur electric vehicle use in New York City. As a zero emissions method of transportation, electric vehicles have potential to dramatically improve air quality across the five boroughs. Though demand for the vehicles has not been as high as anticipated, Vacca and Weprin aim to ease certain regulations to make it easier to own an electric vehicle.
“A dense city like New York is the perfect market for electric vehicles,” said Council Member James Vacca, Chair of the Transportation Committee. “Although electric vehicles represent only a tiny portion of car users, the growth potential is enormous, and the City should be looking at any viable way to encourage electric vehicle use. The potential to reduce vehicle emissions and other pollutants through increased electric vehicle use could have a major impact on air quality throughout the city.”
“Increasing the use of electric vehicles will reduce carbon emissions, protect the environment, and make New York a more sustainable city for future generations,” said Council Member Mark Weprin.
“With large fleets, the nation’s largest car-share market, and many early adopters across the tri-state region, New York City is well positioned to be a global electric vehicle epicenter, and with that, reap handsome economic benefits. This legislation is another great step in enabling NYC to reach that position,” said Tom Glendening, President of E3Think, an organization that maximizes the economic value of transportation and building projects.
Weprin and Vacca are introducing legislation that would allow the Taxi and Limousine Commission to approve electric vehicles for use as medallion taxicabs as long as they meet the TLC’s relevant safety criteria. The TLC already approves certain hybrid vehicles for use as medallion taxicabs when they meet its internal criteria; allowing TLC to approve electric vehicles will offer medallion owners the opportunity to put a zero emissions vehicle on the road for the first time. With more than 13,000 taxis on city streets, the taxi fleet represents a major opportunity to have cleaner vehicles on the streets, especially as manufacturers of electric vehicles continue to make advances in technology, allowing vehicles to charge faster and extending mileage range.
In addition, Vacca will introduce legislation that would allow the Department of Buildings to approve installation of additional electrical meters as long as they are dedicated to the sole use of electric vehicle charging. Acquiring a second meter can be an onerous process for a property owner, due to the risk of illegal conversions. However, to encourage car-owning New Yorkers to purchase electric vehicles over standard, internal combustion engine models, DOB must make it easy for electric vehicle owners to be approved for permits that would allow them to install meters dedicated exclusively for the charging of an electric vehicle. These meters could allow for a stronger electrical current than a normal household electric outlet would use so that the car battery charges quicker. This legislation would also allow building developers to provide meters dedicated to electric vehicle charging for future tenants or for individuals who own electric vehicles.
The final bill in the package, introduced by Vacca, would exempt zero emissions vehicles, such as electric vehicles, from idling tickets. Idling cars contribute significantly to pollution, and idling is rightly deterred by issuing tickets to motorists. However, as zero emissions vehicles emit no pollutants, it makes sense to offer drivers of zero emissions vehicles a reprieve from tickets for idling. All other parking regulations, including no standing, would still apply.