electric vehicles | 511 Contra Costa

New Transportation Laws for 2020

A number of transportation-related laws take effect on January 1, 2020. Below, we’ve highlighted those affecting most road users. To read the full text of any law, click the link to the right of the headline.

  • Bicyclists May Travel Straight Through Turn Lanes (AB 1266): Cyclists will be allowed to proceed straight through turn lanes (both right and left) at intersections, as long as the traffic light signal indicates that vehicles may travel straight through the intersection.
  • Motorized Scooters Will No Longer Require a Motorcycle License to Operate (AB 1810): In 2019, you could use an electric scooter if you had either a driver’s license or learner’s permit. However, operating other types of motorized scooters required a motorcycle (class M1 or M2) license. In 2020, no specialized license will be required for motorized scooters – a driver’s license or learner’s permit will suffice. Note: Motorized scooters cannot be ridden on sidewalks, and a helmet is required when using one.
  • Extension of Program Allowing Low-Emission Vehicles to Use HOV Lanes (AB 544) An existing program allowing low-emission and transitional zero-emission vehicles access to HOV lanes, regardless of vehicle occupancy, has been extended. In 2020, the DMV will issue orange decals to qualifying vehicles. They will be valid until January 1, 2024.
  • Illegal for Vehicle Passengers to Consume Marijuana (AB 1810): The exemption allowing passengers to consume marijuana while in a bus, limousine, taxi, pedicab, housecar or camper expires at the end of 2019. The exemption allowing passengers in these types of vehicles to drink alcohol will remain in effect.

For more laws taking effect in 2020 that affect motorists, visit the DMV website.

NOTE: Starting Oct. 1, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will require U.S. residents to have a federally approved document, like a REAL ID driver’s license or ID card, to board domestic flights. The DMV encourages Californians to apply for their REAL ID when they renew their driver’s license or at their earliest convenience. For more information, check out the FAQ for getting a REAL ID.

The 2017 California Gas Tax Is Here, Don’t Let It Affect You

California’s 12-cent gas tax increase went into effect this month, and you’ll soon see the impact at gas stations throughout the state. We have a couple of ways for you to beat the tax hike:
Share the Ride – Whether you call it ridesharing or carpooling, it’s the same thing – sharing a ride and splitting the cost. Now that most people have smartphones, apps make it possible to carpool to work with just a little advance notice. The first step: visit our Carpooling Page. We’ll walk you through your options (some app-based, some not) and even tell you how carpooling might qualify you for a $25 incentive.
If you commute by driving to BART, there’s an additional perk for you: Scoop carpools are guaranteed a parking spot at a number of Contra Costa BART stations when they arrive before 10am. No need to get up super-early to get a space or roll the dice on a spot being available when you arrive – use Scoop to find a passenger for that empty seat & parking is yours! Plus, parking is free.
Get an Electric Vehicle – If you’re not ready to commute without driving, leasing or purchasing an electric vehicle not only lets you avoid paying the gas tax, but vehicles which are 100% electric get toll-free access to the Express Lanes. Electric vehicles are also allowed in the HOV lanes during carpool hours, even if it’s a solo commute.
For more information on the benefits of driving an electric vehicle, visit our Electric Vehicle Incentive Programs page.

Meeting: Public Investment in Electric Vehicle Charging – Richmond, Sept. 13, 2017

This Wednesday, you’re invited to Richmond City Hall to give the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) feedback on programs to increase the use of electric vehicles (EVs).

Click image to enlarge

California’s electric utilities, including PG&E, have proposed several programs to speed up the adoption of electric vehicles as part of an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At the meeting, CPUC Commissioner Carla Peterman and staff will briefly outline the utilities’ proposals, then ask community members about their concerns and expectations.
Light refreshments will be served and Spanish interpretation services will be provided. If you’d like to arrive by transit, Richmond BART station is 7-blocks away or you can take AC Transit Line 72M.
For more information about the meeting, view the event flyer.

Transportation Electrification Public Meeting
Wednesday, September 13 at 6pm
Council Chambers, Richmond City Hall (440 Civic Center Plaza)

California DMV: No More Green 'Clean Air Vehicle' Decals to Issue (Jan. 2016)

cleanairsticker_greenThe California Department of Motor Vehicles has announced that Green Clean Air Vehicle decals – which allow single-occupant plug-in hybrids to use the HOV lane – are no longer being issued. In late 2015, the DMV hit their limit of 85,000 stickers.
Although the limit has been raised in the past, there is no guarantee that additional decals will be authorized in the coming months. The DMV will continue to accept applications without payment for people who want to go on a waitlist should additional decals be authorized.
White Clean Air Vehicle decals (for natural gas or 100% electric vehicles) are still available and an unlimited number can be issued. Both the Green and White decals are valid until 2019.
For more information, visit the California DMV’s decal information page or call 800-242-4450.

Free Electric Vehicle Test Drives – November 23 & 24, 2015

Electric-Car-MTC-Drive032If you’re considering purchasing an electric vehicle (EV), visit San Francisco the weekend of November 23 & 24 for an Experience Electric event, where you can test drive EVs from a variety of manufacturers for free.
The test-drive weekend is part of a series of Experience Electric events put together by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) and Center for Sustainable Energy. The goal of the series is to spur electric vehicle adoption by offering thousands of free test drives around the Bay.
At the event, licensed drivers can test vehicles from a variety of manufacturers free of charge with no sales pressure. Participants should check in at the EV test drive area outside the main entrance of the Moscone Center.
Experience Electric Test-Drive Event
Moscone Center (outside main entrance)
747 Howard Street, San Francisco
Monday & Tuesday, November 23rd & 24th – 10am to 4pm
For more information, check out the MTC press release.

Electric Vehicle Charging Station Coming to Todos Santos Plaza in Concord (2014)

The City of Concord will soon be installing an electric vehicle charging station near Todos Santos Plaza. Although this isn’t the first car-charging station in Concord, it is the first one owned by the City.
The purchase of the charging unit was made possible by a $7,000 grant from 511 Contra Costa using Bay Area Air Quality Management District Transportation Fund For Clean Air funds and Contra Costa Transportation Authority Measure J Commute Alternative funds.  The City of Concord provided $4,325 for installation costs.  511 Contra Costa has also helped fund charging stations in Martinez, Walnut Creek, Contra Costa Centre, Brentwood, Pleasant Hill and Pittsburg.

ChargePoint Stations
ChargePoint Stations in Contra Costa County

The car-charging unit at Todos Santos Plaza, will be able to  charge two vehicles at a time and will be installed on the first floor of the parking garage at 2051 Salvio Street.  The fee for charging your vehicle will be $1.75 per hour with a 3-hour time limit.  The City of Concord has estimated that the fee will generate about $2,362 annually which is enough to cover the City’s management and electricity costs.  See the full  article in the Contra Costa Times.
Concord’s new charging station will be part of Coulomb Technologies’ ChargePoint network. In order to use the station you will need to have an active ChargePoint account.

Martinez Starts Charging for Charges (2014)

Electric vehicle charging station on the corner of Court and Main in Martinez, CA. Image via: Google Maps

Electric car drivers, listen up! Last month (March 5th, to be precise), the City of Martinez adopted charging fees at electric vehicle charging stations. Users now have to pay $1 for each hour of charging. With gas prices climbing back towards $4 per gallon the fee is  nominal, not to mention necessary to keep such charging stations publicly available and to ensure turnover to allow multiple charging sessions per day at each charging station.
Additionally, charging stations now have varying time limits. Here are the limits listed by location:

  • City Hall (525 Henrietta St.)  – 4 hour maximum.
  • Corner of Court and Main Streets (679 Court Street) – 4 hour maximum.
  • Amtrak Station (407 Estudillo St.) –  24 hour maximum. The charge is capped at $12.
  • Pacheco Transit Hub (Pacheco Blvd. & Blum Rd) – 24 hour maximum. The charge is capped at $12.

To locate available charging stations, visit chargepoint.com and click “Find Stations,” or call 1-877-370-3802 for 24/7 support.

Low-Emission Id for High-Occupancy Lane Use

Do you drive a low-emission motor vehicle? Would you like to get a sticker so you can use a High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane??

Vehicles meeting specified emissions standards may be issued CAV decals allowing the vehicle to utilize the HOV (carpool or diamond) lanes of California’s freeways while being driven by a single occupant. Image via: CA DMV

Check out the DMV’s Section 5205.5  and see if your car has what it takes to qualify for a sticker.

Clean Vehicle Rebate Project

Electric VehicleCalifornia residents, businesses,  non-profits, and government agencies can receive rebate of up to $2,500 toward the purchase or lease of electric plug-in vehicles.
The Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) provides rebates to Californians who purchase or lease electric, plug-in hybrid electric and fuel cell vehicles. The CVRP is funded through the California Air Resources Board (ARB) and is administered by the California Center for Sustainable Energy.
For a list of eligible vehicles and further information, visit www.cvrp.energycenter.org or call toll free at (866) 984-CLEAN (2532). For full details visit the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project.

Get ready for an all-electric car sharing service: Car2go

We’ve posted all about hourly rentals and carsharing with GetAround, RelayRides, ZipCar, and City CarShare, but get ready for a new all-electric car share program – Car2go.
Car2go uses sleek, all-electric cars. Imagine trying to parallel park one of these cars – piece of cake!
The Car2go model is also different than ZipCar or City Carshare. From an article in Fast Company:

Whereas Zipcar requires members to pick up and return cars from the same location, make reservations to rent vehicles in advance, and pay by the hour, Car2go members can rent vehicles by the minute without reservations–and drop off the vehicles at designated points throughout the city.

Car2go rolled out first in Austin, and is now headed for San Diego. In Austin, they claim a Car2go within a 5 minute walk of any point in downtown.
Once you register with Car2go, you’ll receive a special membership card. Look for a Car2go with a green light on the dashboard (available!), swipe your membership card, and hop in. If you need to make a stop, but aren’t done with the reservation, the car will turn its dashboard light red. When you’re finished, just leave it in any public parking space.
Fees start at $0.35 a minute, up to $12.99 an hour or $65.99 a day. Fuel, insurance, parking, and maintenance are covered!
Car2go – redefining the way we think about car usage, one minute at a time.

350Green to build network of EV charging stations in Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO – 350Green announced its plans yesterday for a national network of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. Starting with its first project in the San Francisco Bay Area, the company plans to install and operate stations across urban retail shopping centers and other places near where EV drivers live and work. This approach aims to address two of the most vexing challenges facing widespread adoption of EVs: range anxiety and access to a garage for overnight charging.
“Most of the early focus around EV infrastructure has been on putting charging stations in the home garages of customers, which is great if you have a garage. But since many residents in cities don’t have access to a garage, this effectively limits the number of people who can participate in the EV revolution,” said Mariana Gerzanych, 350Green’s founder and CEO. “Because our public charging stations with fast chargers will be widely and conveniently located near where residents live and work, EV ownership will suddenly become an option for all, regardless of whether they have access to charging in a personal garage.”
The Bay Area project is funded in part by a grant from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) as part of its Spare the Air program, which also aims to make owning an electric vehicle in the Bay Area a viable option for residents.
“As part of protecting the air quality in the Bay Area, we’re committed to making electric vehicle technology available to all,” said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of BAAQMD.  “Adding to our electric vehicle charging infrastructure will make it easier for Bay Area residents to Spare the Air every day by going electric.”
350Green will build and operate fast charging station plazas in six cities around the area: Albany, Menlo Park, Milbrae, Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Sunnyvale. All of the plazas will be installed in the parking lots of select, high-traffic retail locations, at no cost to the host location.
According to the BAAQMD, the transportation sector accounts for more than 50 percent of air pollution in the Bay Area. Significant emission reductions from the transportation sector will help the Bay Area attain and maintain state and national air quality standards.
Production numbers from EV automakers project approximately one million EVs on US roads by 2015, and possibly 27 million (or 10 percent of all vehicles in the US) by 2020. In the Bay Area, the percentages are even higher: there may be almost 400,000 EVs on the road in the Bay Area by 2020 – or 12 percent of all the area’s vehicles.
350Green will announce specific locations in the coming weeks, and construction, operation and management of its Bay Area network of direct-current (DC) fast chargers and Level 2 chargers will be complete by June 2012. Additional markets around the country in which 350Green will build networks will be determined in collaboration with the company’s city and state partners, as well as stakeholders in the various communities.
Source: 350Green press release, February 1, 2011

Green Drive Expo on Saturday October 9th in Richmond

Where: Craneway Pavilion, 1414 Harbor Way South, Richmond, CA (minutes from 580 – directions)
When: Saturday, October 9, 2010 from 10 AM – 5 PM
Cost: $10 at the door, or free with a discount (visit mybart.org for details)
Details: Come to the Bay Area’s first consumer expo dedicated to hybrid, plug-in, ev and other high-tech, ecofriendly vehicles. Stop by for test drives, presentations on green and clean vehicles, and informative exhibits.
Explore the full range of green alternative transportation from concept cars to purchase-ready vehicles including electric cars, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, biodiesel, diesel, compressed natural gas (CNG), and more.
For additional information, or to register for the event, visit http://www.greendriveexpo.com/.

What’s New in the World of Electric Vehicles

As we mentioned earlier this week, the Bay Area will receive $5 million for electric vehicle charging stations as part of the Spare the Air program. This should be welcome news indeed for any current electric vehicle owners or to those considering making the switch. One of the current deterrents to going electric is the fact that a fully charged battery may only withstand short journeys (typically up to 100 miles). More charging stations would provide drivers with more flexibility and help to reduce anxiety- more charging stations would mean that a battery could charge while a driver is at work or out and about fulfilling errands.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD)’s approval for funding is just one of many signs that the electric vehicle movement is not far from appealing to a wider audience. President Obama has demonstrated his interest in the subject by not only visiting a Kansas electric manufacturer in July, but also by test driving a Chevy Volt, a new hybrid, a couple of weeks ago. Other companies, such as BMW and Renault, are working to develop sportier and highly durable models, which would show that electric cars will not always be left in the dust of their gas-dependent counterparts.
Soon many more people will have the ability to try out electric vehicles for themselves. Car rental companies, like Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Hertz, will begin offering the Nissan Leaf, a fully electric car, to customers in certain cities early next year.
California based startups are also getting in on the Electric Vehicle, otherwise known as  EV, action. California’s Zero Emission Vehicle program allows smaller companies to sell zero emission credits to larger companies. The longer an EV can travel on zero emissions, the more credits it’s worth. One such startup is CODA, which aims to make EVs more readily available and affordable to drivers around the world.
Getting excited yet? We certainly are. If you’d like to learn more about purchasing an EV or a hybrid we highly recommend that you visit DriveClean, which offers a buying guide and tools for measuring smog and global warming scores.
Have you or any of your friends gone electric? If so, please share your experiences with us in the comments!

Bay Area Gets $5 Million for Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

SAN FRANCISCO – Last week, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) Board of Directors approved $5 million to support further development of a regional electric vehicle charging infrastructure program in the Bay Area.
Today, the Department of Energy announced the program is designed to make electric vehicle ownership a viable option for residents in the Bay Area. The EV charging stations and home chargers are part of BAAQMD’s Spare the Air program.

“The past several years have seen exciting progress in the development of electric vehicle technology,” said Air District Executive Officer Jack P. Broadbent. “Creating a useful charging network will make it easier for Bay Area residents to Spare the Air every day by going electric.”

The Air District is working to support at-home electric vehicle charging and to establish a network of accessible charging sites where electric vehicle owners can conveniently recharge while conducting their normal business, running errands or shopping.
The program will leverage up to $5 million in Air District funds to support electric vehicle charging infrastructure grants including:

  • 3,000 home chargers at single family and multi-family dwellings
  • 2,000 public chargers at employer and high-density parking areas
  • 50 fast chargers within close proximity to highways

In the Bay Area, the transportation sector accounts for more than 50 percent of air pollution. Significant emission reductions from the transportation sector will help the Bay area attain and maintain state and national air quality standards.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (www.baaqmd.gov) is the regional agency chartered with protecting air quality in the nine-county Bay Area.
Download the 2010-08-04 BAAQMD News Release
More news on the web:

  • Bay Area to install over 5,000 EV charging stations – CNET, August 11, 2010
  • San Francisco Bay Area Gets $5 Million for Electric Vehicle Charging Stations – U.S. Department of Energy, August 11, 2010

This Week’s Headlines in Transportation & Transit: May 1 – 7, 2010

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City of Martinez Becomes 5th Bay Area City to Install Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Three ChargePoint Stations Located in Downtown Martinez to be Unveiled on Earth Day, 4/22/10, 11:00 am at City Hall
Martinez, CA – The City of Martinez is proud to announce that it will become the fifth Bay Area city to install ChargePoint® Networked Charging Stations for Electric Vehicles (EV). The three 120V stations, manufactured by Coulomb Technologies, a leader in EV charging station infrastructure, are located in and around downtown Martinez, including one at City Hall; one at Main and Court streets; and one at the Amtrak Station.
The official unveiling takes place during a ribbon cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. on Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, 2010 at Martinez City Hall, located at 525 Henrietta Street. City officials including Mayor Robert Schroder and representatives from Coulomb Technologies will be on hand for the ceremony, which will include a demonstration of the station in use with a Prius plug-in hybrid vehicle.
Continue reading “City of Martinez Becomes 5th Bay Area City to Install Electric Vehicle Charging Stations”

County Connection Introduces First Hybrid Electric Buses

Concord, Calif. – On Saturday, April 24th Contra Costa residents can get a sneak peak at County Connection’s first hybrid electric buses before they officially go into service. County Connection will host an Earth Day event from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM at Heather Farm Park in Walnut Creek. The public is invited to take a free “test ride” on the new bus that will travel between Walnut Creek BART and Heather Farm Park throughout the duration of the Earth Day event on Saturday, to experience first hand the smooth, quiet ride of the new hybrid electric buses. Continue reading “County Connection Introduces First Hybrid Electric Buses”

Edward Huestis–the reason Vacaville is becoming known as 'Voltage-ville'–retires

Vacaville has 40 charging stations, a number per capita believed to be the largest in the nation. The city also has a municipal fleet that includes 24 electric-powered vehicles. The city also used to have Edward Huestis–the reason Vacaville is becoming known as ‘Voltage-ville’–but no longer.
After working for the city of Vacaville for 17 years, Huestis retired in December. He was originally brought on to help businesses reduce the number of trips employees made to work sites, but has also worked to find grants for the city and–more recently–as manager of the city’s electric vehicle program.
Continue reading “Edward Huestis–the reason Vacaville is becoming known as 'Voltage-ville'–retires”

CBS5 Video Coverage of Unveiling of Pleasant Hill Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

A couple of weeks ago, we blogged about Pleasant Hill’s new electric vehicle charger stations, unveiled on Dec. 10th.
The charging station is the 2nd to be built in Contra Costa County and the 4th in the Bay Area, serving vehicles such as the Wheego, GEM (Global Electric Motorcar), Prius, and new EVs such as the Tesla Roadster and Chevy Volt to be released in 2010. Funding for the project was provided by TRANSPAC and 511 Contra Costa in partnership with the City of Pleasant Hill.
For more information, read the press release: Pleasant Hill Becomes 4th Bay Area City to Install Coulomb Charging Stations for Electric Vehicles or contact Corinne Dutra-Roberts at: 925-969-0841 x204.

Pleasant Hill's New Plug-In Electric Vehicle Chargers

ChargePoint-bollard-clean511 Contra Costa in partnership with the City of Pleasant Hill is unveiling the City’s electric charging stations today, December 10, 2009.  The chargers allow for any plug-in electric vehicle to recharge at one of three locations in Pleasant  Hill; City Hall Visitor Parking lot, the public garage on Crescent Drive, and the City’s corporation yard (for city fleet vehicles only).
The charging stations are sleek bollards, some free standing that look like hi tech parking meters, and one wall mount.  To use the chargers, you will need to Coulomb ChargePoint key fob (a.k.a.  smart card) which provides secure access to the charger.  The City of  Pleasant Hill is the 4th Bay Area City to install the charging stations, and is another link in the charging station chain with Walnut Creek’s installation last spring, and the anticipated charging stations in Martinez and Hercules in 2010.
Contact Corinne Dutra-Roberts at 925-969-0841 x 204 for more information.

Nissan will own the batteries in your next Electric Vehicle

From Autopia Nissan’s Electric Leaf Spreads the EV Gospel (via The Transportationist)
“You don’t worry about the battery,” Ghosn said. “We worry about the battery.”
Company CEO Carlos Ghosn is among the industry’s loudest EV evangelists, and he firmly believes the four-door, five passenger Nissan Leaf will usher in the era of cleaner, greener motoring when it goes on sale late next year.
Nissan is confident the cost of the lease, plus the money you’ll pay for electricity, will for most consumers be no more expensive than buying gasoline. When we drove a Leaf development prototype in April, a company exec said the cost per mile is 4 cents if you figure gas is four bucks a gallon, electricity is 14 cents a kilowatt hour and you drive 15,000 miles a year. Nissan said at the time the car would cost about 90 cents to charge if you plug it in off-peak.
By retaining ownership of the battery, Nissan also can update them as technology advances so consumers aren’t left with “last year’s model.” And though Ghosn didn’t mention it, leasing provides Nissan with some cover should the battery wear out prematurely because it can just replace the pack.
The Leaf’s air-cooled battery provides enough juice to go 100 miles in city traffic.
Read more at Autopia

Walnut Creek First in Contra Costa County to Install Universal Plug-in Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

The City of Walnut Creek formally unveiled their Plug-in Electric Charging Stations located at the North and  South Locust Street garages, and at the Broadway Parking Garage.  Mayor Pro Tem Sue Rainey cut the cloth to unveil the ChargePoint electric charging station developed by Coulomb Technologies.  511 Contra Costa provided the funds for the charging stations and the City paid for installation, signage, and will cover on-going maintenance.  To get your free FOB (smart card key)  contact Matt Huffaker at the City of Walnut Creek at  (925) 256-3580.

Walnut Creek Councilmember Sue Rainey with Richard Lowenthal
Walnut Creek Councilmember Sue Rainey with Coulomb's Richard Lowenthal

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