Last night we drove a fair way to visit with some relatives who are in town. It was far enough that I wanted to do a bit of recharging to ensure enough safety margin in the battery pack to make it home. According to the EV charging station map in the PlugShare application, there were several stations near their hotel, one of which might have been walking distance to the hotel. Maybe. All this was in a business office park and hotel district just north of the San Francisco Airport. Which meant that something about the neighborhood may have been too unpalatable to walk it.
In any case we set off to try that charging station.
It was hard to find because it was buried in the back of an office park. But we did find it, and I was so happy to see five level 2 charging stations and one quick charger all lined up.
BUT – the charging station had a message on the screen that the charging station was “Closed” and would not reopen until 5 AM.
Not quite believing my eyes I went to each station, and each had the same message. I tried waving my Blink card in front of the station only to get no response. Eventually it dawned on me that the owners of the stations didn’t want random people hanging out in front of their office building at night. Therefore they “Close” the stations, preventing public access at night.
I sort of understand this. They own the stations and want to control their use. But – why not make this clear in the charging station map? What if I’d been in desperate states with the car on its last electron that I used to reach that charging station? Only to find it “Closed”?
The quick charger especially needed to be available for random people to use. That vicinity would be a strategically good location for people who’d just picked up travelers at the airport. Generally speaking, at this time frame the charging station network is so incomplete we need all the public stations we can get.
To have one listed on the map that is actually a closed charging station is counter-productive. It gives us a false impression that there’s plenty of charging station infrastructure. But if you look carefully at the maps many of the stations are on corporate campuses. Locations where the corporate owner of the station might want to limit access to their employees.
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