Electric vehicle charging stations coming to Metro park and ride stations

EV chargers at Union Station.

EV chargers at Union Station.

EV drivers will soon be able to charge their vehicles at five Metro park and ride stations: Union Station, Sierra Madre Villa Station, Willow Station, El Segundo Station and Universal City Station. Each of the five locations will have four Level 2 chargers that can accommodate up to eight vehicles at a time. The first two locations, Union Station (located at P2D in the underground parking structure) and Sierra Madre Villa Station, opens to the public in early January 2013. All stations will be open by mid-February 2013.

IMG_3409The installation of these EV charging stations is part of a one-year pilot program. Metro hopes that these stations will encourage EV drivers to combine public transportation with driving. EV drivers will be able to charge their vehicles while using Metro to run errands, or while commuting the rest of the way to work.

EV drivers need to subscribe with Metro to use these charging stations. Once they sign up, they will receive a key fob linked to either a credit card or PayPal account. To start a charge, plug the EV in and wave the key fob over the reader. The cost is $1/hr and tops out at $3. EV drivers will receive a text notification when the $3 maximum has been charged. EV drivers can also call 213-922-GO.EV (4638) for customer support.

This pilot program marks the first time a transportation agency has directly incorporated EV charging stations as part of the transit system. Metro is working with EV Connect to install and operate the charging stations. The program is funded by a grant from the California Energy Commission.

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14 thoughts on “Electric vehicle charging stations coming to Metro park and ride stations

  1. “EV drivers need to subscribe with Metro to use these charging stations. Once they sign up, they will receive a key fob linked to either a credit card or PayPal account.”

    Why waste money like this when you already have a perfectly good contactless card called TAP that does the exact same thing?

    Oh gee I have a brilliant idea, let’s buy key fobs with taxpayer dollars so people can charge their electric vehicles at Metro parking lots with them. Umm hello, has anyone in Metro considered just using TAP instead of buying key fobs?

    • Hello Lock,

      Metro does not expect everyone who uses the charging stations to be a frequent Metro rider with a registered TAP account. These EV charging stations are also for those who ride Metrolink, municipal/regional buses or those who carpool or vanpool from the park and ride. Also, as it is a one-year pilot program, it is part of a separate system to allow for proper collection of data.

      Thank you,

      Anna Chen
      The Source, Contributor

  2. Three dollars for 3 hours of charging an electric vehicle plus another $1.50 per ride for the train, $1.50 to get back, costs $6.00 total.

    If the trip involves more than two train rides no matter how far or short, it’ll be $5.00 for a day pass and total comes out to be $8.00.

    This doesn’t include the airtime messaging costs to receive the text message on a cell phone. Also doesn’t include the parking fees at Union Station.

    I think most people will just drive their electric vehicle straight to their destination, come back and recharge at home.

    • Hi Lynne,

      Just to clarify, $3 is the cap per charge, which means if it takes more than 3 hours for your EV to charge completely, you will still only pay $3.

      Thanks,

      Anna Chen
      The Source, Contributor

  3. “Metro does not expect everyone who uses the charging stations to be a frequent Metro rider with a registered TAP account.”

    This “not everyone has a TAP card” excuse has to stop.

    Anyone that rides Metro needs to use TAP. No cash, no paper passes, no tokens, only TAP. No if’s and butts, I don’t care if Metrolink or what other lame agency is still not onboard with it, TAP is the only accepted form of payment on Metro and that should be final. That’s the direction we need to be heading. Metro needs to put their feet down and make this the ultimate rule.

    Everybody else in other cities around the world uses contactless cards to get around. We’re the only backward agency still relying on wrinkly bills, coins, paper passes slowing everything down. We need to move to faster contactless payments. When was TAP implemented? In 2008. That’s five years ago. And we’re still not using TAP to its fullest potential. It’s taking forever to get anything done and it shouldn’t be this way.

  4. Lock the gates already,

    While I agree with the sentiment that you feel, unfortunately Metro doesn’t see TAP as a major issue. Their main focus is building more rail lines and rail stations so all the funds are directed away from fixing TAP to these projects. Which is a shame because fixing TAP is a core element in making mass transit right in LA.

    Besides, there’s really no incentive for people to switchover to TAP. Just with everything else in this world, the “what’s in it for me” rule applies.

    Does TAP give riders a discounted fare like Boston’s CharlieCard, London’s Oystercard or the Hong Kong Octopus Card?
    No, it’s still the same $1.50 per ride so it makes no difference if people pay with cash or not. It only helps Metro, not the riders. Since there’s no monetary incentive or discounts to use TAP, people will just continue to pay with wrinkly bills and coins which slows everything down.

    Does TAP give riders full refunds when they want to cash out their TAP account?
    No, TAP doesn’t offer refunds. Metro doesn’t have to follow rules like the CA Gift Card Law. They see TAP as a product instead of a reloadable card, which is contrary to the reload money and cash purse technology that TAP is.

    Does TAP expire?
    Yes it expires every three years and again it is exempt from the CA Gift Card Law because Metro believes it’s a product instead of a reloadable card.

    So then how much does TAP cost?
    It costs $2.00. Riders need to pay another $2.00 for a new card when it expires. And riders lose all their money in their old card with no way of getting it back. The only way to “keep” the money is to transfer the funds to their new card. And all of this has to be done over the phone with a live agent at Metro hours; it can’t be done online even when it’s 2013. And no, riders cannot use your TAP anywhere else like buying a soda at 7-Eleven or buying food at Famima like other contactless cards around the world are capable of. TAP’s sole use is only for public transit.

    Who in the right mind sees this as a deal? The hassles of TAP aren’t worth it. And unfortunately, Metro doesn’t seem to care.

  5. Sounds like an interesting pilot.. It encourages both electric vehicles and the use of public transportation which are both environment friendly.

  6. This sounds good on paper, but it also sounds like another “feel good” waste of tax dollars by the politicians running the Metro Board.

    If it’s cheaper to get around in an electric vehicle which uses no gas at all, why would an electric vehicle owner want to pay additional money for parking, charging, and use public transit instead of just driving directly to their destination?

    I have to wonder how much tax dollars was spent in this pilot program when they could’ve been used to fix the problems on the Blue Line or fixing the issues with TAP.

    Oh well, I guess politicians running the Metro Board would rather do nonsensical ideas like these because it’s more visible to the public that they did something so that they keep getting re-elected than directing funds to fixing something in the background which isn’t as clear to their voters. “I installed electric chargers for electric vehicles at the rail stations!” has a far better chance of being re-elected by the masses than “I fixed TAP and fixed the problems on the Blue Line.”

  7. Subscription systems have proven to be unattractive and usually ineffective for electric car charging. Most people don’t need to charge in town; if they do, they want to charge at their destination. The other popular place to charge is on long road trips. Neither is good for a subscription system. The cost of the subscription ends up being not-worth-it, so people simply figure it as a big hassle to use the charger at all. Gas stations don’t require “subscriptions”.

    TAP has been a pretty poorly implemented system, too, but at least now you can buy the card at every station and on every bus. Right? That’s the minimum necessary implementation for a fare system. The same applies to the electric car charging stations: you need to be able to just show up with your electric car, spend US dollars, and charge.

  8. And seriously, this is posted in “Best Practices”?

    Systems where you have to subscribe in advance are known as “Worst Practices”.

  9. I wrote a long post about why I think it’s good but lost it. As an electric vehicle driver, I think this is a good plan but think that Metro should work with one of the two companies that already have a substantial network of charging stations (Charge Point and Blink/Ecotality) instead of creating their own systems. Price of power is somewhat irrelevant. If you need it, you use it. If not, you don’t

  10. Your systems are not good here. Just trying to get one of these devices looks like it will cost $25 plus having to pre-purchase some type of ‘credit’ for future charging.

    1)Instead of being billed in dollar amounts I am asked to buy credits that don’t seem to correlate to dollar amounts. What are these credits, how are they valued?

    2)Is there a charge just for having the key fob that will be assessed each month or is this a pay as I go program?

    3)Why do you need my birthday and other personal data for this system? What if I don’t want to provide it to you?

    4)How will I know the amount of cost being assessed on usage?

    5)Are the per hour rates rounded up or down? If I connect for 1hour and 2 minutes will I be charged two hours or one?

    6) Will the systems be able to use the paypass type technology on the credit cards similar to the Chargepoint company systems?

    • Hey Adam;

      I’ll try to get some answers to your questions.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • Hi Adam;

      Here are the answers from Metro staff to your questions about the charging stations. Hope this helps — Steve Hymon, editor/The Source:

      1) Instead of being billed in dollar amounts I am asked to buy credits that don’t seem to correlate to dollar amounts. What are these credits and how are they valued?

      100 credits costs $1, and will allow for one hour of charging. Metro’s network provider uses credits instead of dollars because in the Los Angeles area, EV charge station providers are generally not allowed to “resell” electricity, as this is reserved for licensed utilities. Using a credit system allows providers to work around this issue.

      Metro also opted for a credit system funded by fewer, discrete transactions through PayPal for a couple of reasons. First, if we processed credit card transactions each time you charged your vehicle, you would pay a higher percentage (15% or more) of each transaction in credit card authorization charges. By paying once to credit your account, we substantially reduce the credit card network transaction charges.

      Secondly, PayPal is fully PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant. This is more secure because Metro and its network provider will not record or manage your credit card number.

      2) Is there a charge just for having the key fob that will be assessed each month or is this a pay as I go program?

      There is no monthly or start up fee. During the pilot period, the cost of charging is $1/hour with a cap of $3 for the entire charge session. 

      3) Why do you need my birthday and other personal data for this system? What if I don’t want to provide it to you?

      Your birthday is not required, so you can leave that field blank. Your address is needed so that we can mail your welcome kit and RFID key fob.

      4) How will I know the amount of cost being assessed on usage?

      You can check the cost of a transaction and your credit balance after each charge by logging onto your account at metro.net/evaccount.

      5) Are the per hour rates rounded up or down? If I connect for 1 hour and 2 minutes will I be charged two hours or one?

      Charging costs are rounded off to the nearest whole minute not the hour. If you used the charge station for 1 hour and 2 minutes, you would pay $1.03 to be exact. 

      6) Will the systems be able to use the paypass type technology on the credit cards similar to the Chargepoint company systems?

      During the pilot period, integrations with external systems like the toll road PayPass will not be available. These will require additional development work which was not covered by the California Energy Commission grant.

      In regard to integration with other charge station networks, there are numerous trade groups exploring how to make interoperability work. Metro’s network provider will continue to participate in these groups to ensure that interoperability becomes a reality in the future.

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