As San Francisco's public transit infrastructure languishes, Gavin Newsom has inaugurated a new electric car charging station on Pier 27.
It's basically a gasless gas station. Simply by tapping a credit card on the pump, owners of electric vehicles (EVs) will be able to charge up and speed off into the night.
The new stations will make it easier for drivers to clog up the streets with private vehicles. But at a time when The City is trying to reduce the number of car trips, is more gridlock really what San Francisco needs? There's no indication that the new station will do anything to help mass transit, bicyclists, or pedestrians.
Even when cars are freed of fossil fuels, there are not exactly green. The manufacturing process produces emissions, the materials for batteries must be mined, and the electricity has to be produced somewhere. In essence, EVs allow owners to pretend that they've eliminated emissions by simply shifting the pollution to someplace very far away.
But in fairness, EVs are a step in the right direction. While they don't eliminate emissions, they at least reduce them.
Few San Franciscans will be able to take advantage of the new stations, but taxpayers funded the project to the tune of $15 million in stimulus funds. In addition, a $30 million project will replace city fleets with electric cars and charge stations, further reducing pollution caused by the government. And another $5 has been set aside to help consumers install charging stations in their own homes.
For that money, we could have subsidized hundreds of thousands of bicycles or monthly transit passes.