Price: Electrified transportation is here, but are we ready?

There is no question that electrified transportation is the future of getting from place to place globally. New Jersey’s clean energy goals reflect that fact, as do its initiatives thus far. The Charge Up New Jersey incentive program offers up to $5,000 toward the purchase or lease of zero-emission vehicles, while the Clean Fleet Electric Vehicle Incentive Program assists government authorities’ transition to electrically fueled fleets. To top it off, the state’s Board of Public Utilities approved a $166 million investment from Public Service Electric & Gas into the EV charging infrastructure.

Aaron Price. (File photo)

This is all great news, but it will take time for the state’s residents and businesses to transition to electric vehicles. However, there are other means of electrified transportation that are making significant changes to the way we get around our state.

E-bikes and e-scooters have been surging in popularity all over the world. In 2019, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill clarifying regulations surrounding e-bikes and e-scooters, making it easier for people to travel around New Jersey without using a car. Without question, residents and visitors to our state have taken advantage of this accessibility.

Hoboken’s pilot program in 2019 logged more than 640,000 rides, and Hoboken officials released a survey that showed users reported driving less while reducing their usage of ride-share and taxi services. In the first week of rolling out the scooter program, Hoboken had the highest ridership of any city in the world.

Just two months ago, Asbury Park welcomed e-scooters to its streets, and it, too, has already logged tens of thousands of rides, easing the car burden on the city. Newark’s pilot program NewarkGo launched in January, with 2,000 affordable, dockless e-scooters and e-bikes available to the city’s residents, many of whom do not own a car, and I would anticipate positive results from that pilot, as well. New Jersey needs to acknowledge and welcome these inevitable changes.

While the PATH has banned e-scooters and e-bikes on the rail system, New Jersey Transit has recognized that this is the new age of transportation and will allow e-scooters and e-bikes on trains and buses. Having that option available could mean the difference between individuals commuting by a gas-powered car and large swaths of commuters opting for public transit. As we wait for the EV charging infrastructure in New Jersey to develop, and for the obstacles like cost and accessibility to be overcome, embracing e-scooters and e-bikes is a first step into this new era of electrified transportation.

I was very encouraged by Murphy’s participation in TechUnited: New Jersey’s Earth Day event in collaboration with Public Service Enterprise Group, where we promoted equitable electrified transportation solutions. Clean technology is an emerging industry that needs support and funding, and the state should continue to support programs like our BetterPlanet Challenge. State elected officials like Assemblywoman Carol Murphy (D-Cinnaminson) have shared that more private investment in EV charging is a “must” if we are going to meet our state’s goals. The growth of electrified transportation in New Jersey is dangerously close to outpacing the development of the infrastructure, so we must act now. The potential is here in our state, we just need to show that we are ready to support it.

Aaron Price is the CEO of TechUnited: New Jersey and founder of Propelify.