‘Electric car only’ parking spaces upset some Austinites

AUSTIN (KXAN) — One of the benefits of owning an electric car is the reserved parking spots around Austin at designated charging stations.

In 2011, the city installed more than 100 charging stations around town. Three years later, we set out to find out how much the stations are being used – and why they continue to make some people upset.

Kirstin Faoro came to Barton Springs Tuesday afternoon for a swim.

“It pisses me off,” Faoro said. “I have to walk a long ways, and I don’t like it.”

Recovering from recent knee surgery, Faoro was hoping to find a closer parking spot.

“I realize you want to encourage people to get the electric cars, but it just hasn’t happened yet,” Faoro said. “So there shouldn’t be spots for cars that don’t exist.”

Kirstin was referring to two electric charging stations in the Barton Springs Pool parking lot, of which only one was being used. But we spoke with Austin Energy, who led the charge on getting many of the charging stations installed in Austin, and they disagree with her evaluation that the cars don’t exist.

“As a matter of fact, we’re ranked fourth in the country for the growth of electric vehicles and electric vehicle usage,” Carlos Cordova, spokesman for Austin Energy, said. “We now estimate there are over 1,000 electric vehicles here in the city.”

That’s an increase of 700 percent in the last four years.

Sunil Shenoy owns one of those cars. He says people shouldn’t be upset by the reserved parking spaces.

“If you are not disabled, and there’s a couple of empty disabled spots, should you be able to park there? No,” Shenoy said. “It’s the analogous argument, I believe.”

Austin Energy says they plan to continue expanding the grid of electric vehicle charging stations in Austin.

“Now we’re looking at, for instance, putting them in apartment complexes,” Cordova said.

A move that’s sure to charge up both sides of the issue.

We thought you should know, Austin Energy offers rebates if you install a charging station in your home. So far, 219 homes in Austin have taken them up on that. The city also has about 200 public charging stations.

Drivers can also buy a prepaid card for $25 that allows them to charge as much as you want at any city station for six months. So far, the city has sold nearly 500 of those.

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