- By 2030, every household in Boston may be within a 10-minute walk of an electric vehicle (EV) car-share or charging station, per a zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) roadmap recently unveiled by the Boston Transportation Department (BTD). The plan was developed in coordination with the Bloomberg Philanthropies American Cities Climate Challenge.
- The roadmap hinges on three key goals: the widespread adoption of electrification; affordable and convenient access to charging infrastructure; and electrification of Boston's municipal fleet. While the roadmap was written in a local context, it was "inspired by the rapid electrification programs of cities such as Los Angeles," said Vineet Gupta, director of planning at BTD, in an email.
- The plan detailed significant economic benefits of EV adoption, including $3.6 billion expected to be accrued directly from EV owners in the form of reduced annual vehicle operating costs. Customers are also expected to accrue $1.4 billion in reduced electricity costs, while the value of reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will accrue $1.5 billion in savings.
The key objective of this roadmap is to complement a comprehensive transition away from single-occupancy vehicle use in the city toward zero-emission modes of transportation such as walking and biking, said Gupta. While replacing a gas-powered vehicle with an EV doesn't necessarily advance this goal, Gupta said incentives for EV car-share and ride-hailing services are expected to "flourish," which can in turn reduce vehicles on the street.
And while there's an "acknowledgement" that personal vehicles will still be widely used in five to 10 years, the roadmap takes a "pragmatic approach to make sure that if people are going to own a vehicle ... ideally they're going to use an EV," said Kelly Blynn, EV technical strategist at NRDC.
This will have a significant impact on Boston's sustainability goals, as 65% of the city's transportation-related GHG emissions come from personal vehicles, Blynn said. The transportation sector overall accounted for 29% of the city's total emissions in 2017, according to the roadmap. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh — who was recently named the chair of Climate Mayors — has committed to making the city carbon neutral by 2050, and this plan is expected to accelerate that goal.
Equity is another metric woven throughout the roadmap's 46 pages, which detail a number of equitable stakeholder engagement plans and equitable procurement initiatives to "direct benefits towards low-income communities and communities of color first," the plan reads. To ensure well-distributed access to charging infrastructure, Boston will first install chargers in municipally-owned parking lots located in all of the city's neighborhoods, Gupta said.
Furthermore, Boston adopted an EV Readiness Policy For New Developments last year that applies to 100% of the city's parking spaces: 25% of parking spaces must be "EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment) installed", while the remaining 75% must be "EV ready" for future installation. Blynn noted that this policy is one of the first with a "flexible compliance mechanism" that allows developers to get different credits for EV car-share or e-bike charging infrastructure.
Boston is also seeing a growing demand for EV charging infrastructure in its historic districts, which are designed in "a particular style of architecture," according to a blog post from the city's Landmarks Commission. In the city's Beacon Hill, the commission approved an EV charging station that looks like a "common gas or water port embedded in the sidewalks," illustrating how creative design can coincide with preservation needs.