Electric Vehicles

New York City is filled with accessible and sustainable travel options. Using alternative methods of transportation, like biking or public transit, to commute to Columbia’s campuses is one way to do your part to reduce emissions and help keep our neighborhoods safer, healthier, and greener. We encourage commuters to take advantage of public transportation, carpooling and vanpooling, and carbon-free transportation alternatives. If driving alone is absolutely necessary for you, transitioning to an electric vehicle is a way to make your travel more environmentally friendly.

Electric vehicles have many advantages including incredibly low operating costs. In 2019, for example, the New York City government spent between $204 and $386 maintaining each of its electric cars, compared to $1,600 spent for the average gas powered vehicle. For the average consumer, electric vehicles mitigate most of the cumbersome maintenance and fuel costs associated with internal combustion engines.

Electric vehicles encourage energy independence and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, especially when the energy used to charge your electric vehicles at home comes from renewable sources. They provide a very tangible means through which you can make your commute more environmentally friendly!

This interactive online tool shows popular electric car models graphed by their average monthly costs compared to their greenhouse gas emissions.

Electric vehicles also have a number of public health benefits. Pollutants from internal combustion engines can trigger symptoms for individuals with respiratory or cardiovascular illnesses, sometimes even contributing to premature death. These health effects are often most heavily borne by marginalized individuals in lower-income neighborhoods. Driving an electric vehicle doesn’t just help the natural environment, but it makes New York City a healthier place, especially for our neighbors who have been historically discriminated against.

The electric vehicle marketplace is growing! Purchasing an electric vehicle instead of a gas powered car is becoming increasingly more common and accessible. Doing so helps the environment, our community, and is a financially sound choice.

Vehicle tailpipe and upstream CO2 emissions of electric vehicles bar graph

A number of federal and local programs make purchasing an electric vehicle easier and more affordable.

New York State residents are eligible for the drive clean rebate program. “Open to all New York State residents, the Drive Clean Rebate offers a point-of-sale rebate towards the purchase or lease of a new electric car. Taking advantage of the Drive Clean Rebate is very easy: simply purchase a qualifying electric car from a participating dealer, and a discount of up to $2,000 will be applied when you pay.” Read more about the Drive Clean Rebate and see a list of qualifying vehicles on the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA) Website.

Infographic about how to purchase electric vehicles with rebates and discounts

Additionally, the federal government provides a tax credit for purchasers of new electric vehicles. “All-electric and plug-in hybrid cars purchased new in or after 2010 may be eligible for a federal income tax credit of up to $7,500. The credit amount will vary based on the capacity of the battery used to power the vehicle.” The federal tax credit applies in conjunction with any additional state incentives. To view the credits apportioned for different electric vehicles on the market, go to the Department of Energy’s Fuel Economy website.

The New York State Green Pass Discount Plan also offers a financial benefit to drivers of electric and hybrid electric cars who commute from outside of the city. The initiative provides a 10% discount on New York tolls for qualifying energy efficient vehicles, including most popular electric car options in the market.

For more electric vehicle incentives outside of New York State, see the Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center.

Click here to see and compare electric vehicles in the marketplace, and view this PDF for information on buying used electric cars.

Introduction to Electric Vehicle Charging Stations:

There are three types of electric car charging stations in common use throughout the United States: Type 1, 2 and 3 charging stations. While all three require the use of a charging cord and plug, they vary in terms of charging speed and functionality.

Type 1 charging stations are the easiest to install. All they require is a charging cord and access to a typical household 120 volt outlet. When you buy an electric car, the company from which you bought it will provide you with a Type 1 charging cord. Type 1 ports charge between 3 and 5 miles per hour and can provide a full charge when left plugged in overnight.

Type 2 charging stations charge more quickly than Type 1 stations; instead of connecting to 120 volt outlets, they connect to 240 volt ports. That said, Type 2 charging stations charge at a rate of around 10 to 20 miles per hour. Type 2 charging ports are typically found at commercial charging stations and in commuter garages.

Type 3 charging stations, also known as Direct Current Fast Charging (DCFC) stations, are the fastest plug in charging option for electric vehicles. Using 480 volt power, DCFC stations can provide a full charge in 30-60 minutes. DCFC stations are considerably more expensive than Type 1 and 2 charging stations, and are less commonly available in public charging stations.

Three different ways of charging EVs, as described in the text above.

As more people switch to electric vehicles, charging stations are becoming a part of the American landscape and initiatives at the city, state and federal level will be accelerating to make the EV transition happen. Electric vehicle ownership is becoming increasingly more common in the United States, and with it, both private companies and public organizations are pledging to build more electric car charging stations.

Though the number of electric car charging stations is expected to grow in recent years - with companies like GM committing to build 2,700 DCFC stations in the next five years - there are still many charging options available in and around Columbia’s campuses.

The Alternative Fuels Data Center has compiled a map of “public charging stations, or electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE), installed throughout New York State. Selecting an individual station displays the name of the charging host, address, and contact information. Most of the stations also include charging rate information (AC Level 1, AC Level 2, or DC Fast Charge), number of charging ports, and hours of accessibility.”

ChargeHub, an electric vehicle advocacy organization, has also compiled a map of charging stations, including their real time availability.

Columbia offers electric vehicle charging stations through its commuter and 24-hour garages across its Morningside and CUMC campuses, and at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Campus starting mid-2021.

For information about parking at Columbia, visit the Columbia Parking webpage.

An electric car charging in the Columbia garage with the Sustainable Columbia green and logo on a pillar in the background.