GO offers electric car charging at train stations
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It’s one way of guaranteeing you get a parking space at the GO station.
Ontario Transportation Minister Glen Murray made that joke at the Oakville GO station on Wednesday at the unveiling of a three-year, $500,000 pilot project that puts electric car charging stations on the transit system.
Oakville, along with the Aurora, Centennial, Lincolnville and Whitby stations, has been equipped with charging facilities. Ajax, Burlington, Pickering, Erindale and Clarkson will get them next year.
The project is designed to make it easier for commuters to make environmentally friendly choices, said Murray.
“If you’re going to drive a car, we prefer you drive an electric car and it’s pretty hard to drive an electric car if there’s no infrastructure at our stations to do that kind of interface,” he said.
The charging stations will be demand driven.
“The more you use them, the more we will have and the better and cleaner it will be,” said Murray.
“Oakville is very dependent on GO service, so to have this extra amenity right here in the underground (parking garage) is something, I think, you’re going to see a huge take-up,” said Oakville MPP Kevin Flynn, who owns an 8-year-old hybrid and says his next car will be electric.
There are only 1,800 electric cars in Ontario and 5,000 across Canada. But that number is growing every year, said Cara Clairman, president and CEO of Plug ’n Drive, a non-profit agency that encourages the use of electric vehicles.
“They’re much cheaper to operate than conventional vehicles. With electricity running about one-sixth the price of gasoline, an average driver can save about $2,000 a year just on fuel alone. The maintenance costs are less as well,” she said.
Electric vehicles emit 90 per cent less greenhouse gases and many more drivers would like to buy them, said Clairman.
But they worry about being able to find charging stations. Meantime, property owners and developers are reluctant to install them until more people are driving electric cars.
Electric cars have a reputation for being expensive, but Clairman said there are government rebates that lower the cost by thousands of dollars and the fuel economy makes them very competitive. She spends about $350 a year to run her Nissan Leaf.
Eighty per cent of electric vehicle drivers charge their vehicles at home. But apartment dwellers and those without driveways need more charging stations.
As more manufacturers make the vehicles and they’re more widely available, more people will buy them, said Clairman.
The GO charging stations are available to the public whether or not they ride transit, said Metrolinx president Bruce McCuaig.
They are free for the first month. After that, they cost $2.50 per charge. Users can pay with a credit card or a Chargepoint card, which can be used at charging stations around the province. Presto fare payment cards won’t work on the charging stations because the cost, about $4,000 per unit, is prohibitive, said a government spokesman. London’s Oyster card doesn't work on charging stations there either, he said.
How long it takes to charge a car depends on the size of the battery but four to six hours is common. Users can leave their cars at the stations all day.
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