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City Pushes for Electric Rides but There Aren't Enough Chargers, Drivers Say

The TLC plans to make 400 additional EV licenses available on March 29.
A revel supercharging hub on Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn. Photo: Google Maps.

As the city moves toward a goal from Mayor Eric Adams to have a 100% electric for-hire vehicle fleet by 2030, Taxi and Limousine Commission-licensed drivers who already operate electric vehicles say the city is not ready for a green wave just yet, reports The Brooklyn Eagle. 

Drivers for app-based ride-hailing services often depend on fast chargers, which can refuel electric vehicles in as little as 20 minutes. But, recent reports show that chargers are sparse within the five boroughs, with 169 fast chargers spread across about 40 locations — each of which is in areas where few drivers live.

“If [charging] would’ve been more accessible, I would’ve kept it,” stated Angelis De La Cruz, an Uber driver who returned his Tesla six months after renting it for a gasoline-powered Chevy Traverse because charging was so inconvenient. 

The TLC report from last year called “Charged Up!” adds that parts of The Bronx, eastern Queens and southern Brooklyn with a high concentration of drivers are completely short on fast-charging stations.

Level 2 chargers are most common throughout the city, which can take anywhere from four to 10 hours to juice up an empty EV. Though there are over 500 locations with about 1,800 public Level 2 chargers across the five boroughs, the fast chargers are often pay-walled and with long waiting times leave drivers at a financial deficit. 

“I was making good money with the Tesla, but I was wasting three, four hours of my day just charging,” De La Cruz continued. He now pays more to fill his Chevy Traverse with gas than he did to charge the Tesla, but, he said, the difficulty and stress of finding a charge quickly weren’t worth it.

TLC-licensed drivers recently had the opportunity on Wednesday morning to pick up one of 600 new licenses for electric for-hire vehicles, leaving all of the permits snapped up in under five minutes. And the TLC has additional plans to make 400 additional EV licenses available on March 29, which some say could overwhelm the system.

Despite the shared concern, the Department of Transportation is moving forward with plans to install 6,000 fast chargers by 2030. And the all-electric ride-share company, Revel, is on pace to build 136 public super hubs in Maspeth, Queens; Port Morris, The Bronx; Red Hook and South Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and in the Lower East Side in Manhattan.

“We need to ensure that the charging is accessible to everyone, not just people who own their own driveway, and the investment really has to happen now,” stated Jessica Enzmann, a senior organizing representative with the Sierra Club, a non-profit environmental organization with chapters across the nation. 

“We have to figure out how we’re going to add more charging stations.”