EV Charging at Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Stations: Current State and Future Plans

Mass transit station parking lots are ideal opportunities to help solve the growing need for more EV charging stations, especially for EV owners without access to home charging. In my recent post, “8 Reasons Mass Transit Parking Lots Make Ideal EV Charging Centers,” I detailed why I believe transit stations can play an important role in the buildout of EV charging infrastructure.

In Northern California, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) commuters will likely increasingly be able to charge their EVs at a growing number of transit station parking lots. BART recently conducted two EV-related surveys and has begun a pilot charging station program at one of its stations. I reached out to BART with several questions and have included their answers in their entirety below:

1. Can you share results of the consumer survey you did regarding charging at the Warm Springs station?

BART conducted two surveys related to EV charging last year(2018), one focused on our pilot at Warm Spring station and a second survey was open to all BART riders across the SF Bay Area. We received just over 300 responses and the number of responses in parentheses below refer to all BART riders and Warm Springs riders respectively. A few takeaways from these two surveys:

  • >90% EV owners and >60% of non-EV owners responding to the system wide survey are in favor of more EV charging (107, 104 responses)
  • >90% EV owners from both surveys are more inclined to drive to a BART Station that has EV charging available (107, 30 responses)
  • A few dozen responders to the Warm Springs survey site difficulty with permitting and high charging costs as reasons for not charging their EVs at Warm Springs station
  • Majority system-wide survey responders (210 individuals) do not have reliable access to EV charging at home (52%) or at work (72%)
VW eGolf charging at Fremont Warm Springs Station-BART
VW eGolf charging at Fremont Warm Springs Station-BART

2.  What has BART learned to date from the pilot program at the Warm Springs station?

The EV charging pilot at Warm Springs/South Fremont Station is ongoing. Prior to project implementation, BART expected the main use for the EV charging stations to be daily commuters riding BART to work. Evaluation of EV charging patterns have found other common use cases including riders attending evening event/business function/client meeting charging, and weekend charging. Despite finding other use cases at Warm Springs, BART expects EV charging stations at other stations to be primarily used by daily commuters because Warm Springs is an end-of-line station rather than a typical BART station.

Pricing also plays a major role in the usage of EV charging stations. BART revised its permit pricing policy at Warm Springs last October to increase the usage of its EV charging stations. Currently, EV charging at Warm Springs includes an electricity fee based on energy use and is a separate fee from BART parking permit fees.

3. What about the required electrical infrastructure? Is BART looking at perhaps installing a microgrid at some stations and tapping into the solar power generated from the solar parking canopies at stations like Lafayette?

BART’s facilities are equipped to support the electricity consumption of all the EV charging stations. Warm Spring station is already equipped with a 500 kW onsite solar project. In addition, BART has goals for 100% carbon free electricity by 2035 and 100% renewable electricity by 2045. In 2017, BART signed two Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) which will bring us to 90% renewable energy by 2021 when these projects come online. For more information, visit Energy at BART.

To date, BART has also completed the installation of (6) onsite solar projects at various facilities and passenger stations, with plans to explore additional onsite solar projects in the future. While both EV charging stations and onsite solar sit “behind” BART’s electrical meters, BART currently has no plans to pursue a microgrid in order to island its facilities from the electrical grid. That being said, BART continuously looks for opportunities to make its electric supply more reliable and resilient through redundant feeds, onsite generation, and equipment sizing and specifications, among other considerations.  

Fremont Warm Springs BART Station Parking Lot-Solar
Fremont Warm Springs BART Station Parking Lot-Solar

4. I see that at Warms Springs there are 42 EV charging stations in total. If 42 EVs are all charging at the same time, that is a pretty significant energy demand. What, if any, software (ChargePoint?) is BART deploying to perhaps rotate charging so not all EVs are charging concurrently? And secondly, any techniques being deployed to reduce utility demand charges?

There are 42 parking spaces equipped with EV charging infrastructure but there are actually 22 EV charging stations at Warm Springs including 20 dual-port chargers and 2 are single-port chargers. BART is not actively using software to regulate when the EVs are charging.

5. As someone who rides BART from the Walnut Creek station, I’m excited about the new parking garage and mixed use transit village and development. What plans does the developer have for EV charging in the parking garage as well as the future housing units?

The developer has infrastructure at the Walnut Creek garage to support future EV charging. However, they plan on assessing demand and installing the EV chargers at a later date. The developer is still evaluating the installation of EV charging for the rest of the mixed-use project.

Walnut Creek BART Transit Village
Walnut Creek BART Transit Village

6. What are BART’s plans in the near- and longer-term for adding EV charging stations to other parking structures at BART stations?

Investing in EV charging station infrastructure is part of BART’s 10-year Sustainability Action Plan. In the near term, BART is working on EV charging capacity at a few employee sites and public facing parking facilities.

7. I see that BART is using ChargePoint stations and their network – are there plans to include other charging networks – Tesla, etc., in the future?

BART is technology agnostic and doesn’t currently give preference to any single vendor. While ChargePoint is the vendor for our EV charging stations at Warm Springs/South Fremont Station, BART is open to other partnering with other vendors for future EV charging infrastructure.

Special thanks to the BART PR and sustainability team for providing detailed and timely responses!

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