(Interactive map by Juliana Reyes)
City Council passed a bill in 2007 allowing Philadelphians with electric cars to get their own parking spaces on city streets. But they don’t come cheap — or without a bit of a bureaucratic headache. Still, it’s a luxury, said Brett Skolnick, a Fairmount resident who got a spot outside his house last year.
Since 2012, when the Philadelphia Parking Authority began accepting applications for the spaces, the PPA has received 15 applications. There are currently just 10 active spaces around the city, clustered in Fairmount and Bella Vista, according to PPA spokesman Marty O’Rourke.
The parking spots are not restricted to the applicant — any electric vehicle can park in a designated space, but unless you have the key to the charging station, you can’t use it.
The initial application and installation process costs between $1,400 and $3,050, which includes:
- The PPA application fee ($50)
- The electrician’s fee ($1,200-$2,500, depending on size and location)
- The PPA fee to turn a normal parking space into a private one ($150-$500, depending on location and size)
That cost doesn’t include the yearly renewal fee of $75 to $150, depending on where you live.
The city has made $2,600 in revenue from issuing and renewing electric vehicle parking spaces, the PPA’s O’Rourke said. The ordinance was meant to encourage electric car adoption.
Skolnick, who works in the pharmaceutical industry, doesn’t believe the annual fee is prohibitive. What was more difficult, he said, was the process itself.
For one, it’s time consuming. The whole process of getting his space inspected by the city, hiring the electrician and getting signs from the PPA took about a month, he said.
The city also required vehicle information and registration data on the parking space application, which made it difficult for Skolnick, who wanted to have his charging station ready when the car arrived. Normally, you can’t get a car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) until it’s already delivered. Skolnick worked around it.
So the process wasn’t so smooth, but Skolnick understands that it’s still new to the city (when he applied, the city had only approved four other electric car parking spaces). The trouble was worth it, he said. He gets to charge his car every night right outside his house, plus he essentially has his own parking space, which, in Fairmount, can be a game-changer.
The low number of electric car parking spaces is consistent with data about charging station usage around the city. Philadelphia has more than 30 public charging stations, many of which are located in parking lots and free to use (after you pay to park, of course).
But the usage numbers are less than encouraging.
Those numbers suggest that Philadelphia just doesn’t have a lot of electric vehicles on the road. But it’s not alone. According to recent figures, there are fewer than 212,000 electric cars on the road in the entire country.
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