UMD Eliminates Free Parking at EV Charging Stations
The University of Maryland implemented some changes in their electric vehicle parking and charging policies. Starting September 15, 2014, parking at EV charging stations on campus is no longer free. It will continue to be free to use the charging stations themselves but you must have a parking pass or use one of the charging stations at a metered spot.
The other policy change is that the parking pass discount for electric vehicles went from 50% down to 20%, which is the same discount rate that regular hybrids and other low-emissions vehicles receive under the Green Permit program.
Some electric vehicle owners are not happy about the changes. One plug-in vehicle driver expressed his opinion in the University of Maryland’s independent student newspaper asking “How green can DOTS be if they take away the benefits of electric car commuters?” The writer pointed out that some commuters may have based their decision to purchase an electric vehicle on the assumption that the 50% parking discount would continue.
I spoke with David Allen, Director, Department of Transportation Services at UMD to get the story on the policy changes. David, who is a Nissan LEAF owner, explained that the decision to cut back on the EV incentives was made by the Campus Transportation Advisory Committee. When the first charging stations were installed four years ago, there were few electric cars to use them. Now, the stations are in such high demand that they recently added six more in the Regents Garage. He explained to me that the committee considered the adjustment a social justice issue. Generally, EV owners are in an upper income bracket and providing a financial break to people who statistically make over $100,000 per year was one of the motivations for the policy change.
A letter placed on the windshields of vehicles at charging stations announcing the changes said that the University of Maryland had more EV charging spaces than any other university in the country with 28. However, a recent press release from ChargePoint claims that the University of California at Davis is number one with 38 stations. Towson University in Maryland has 36 according to ChargePoint.
Regardless of who claims to have the most charging stations or the reaction to reeling back the perks that used to go with owning an EV, it is good to see a rise in the number of on-campus EV charging stations, especially in Maryland.