Tampa prepares for future with all-electric vehicles on city streets

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – As Earth Day approaches, so does a future with less carbon emissions and more electric vehicles on our roadways.

With many auto companies promising to sell mostly electric cars by the mid 2030’s cities like Tampa will need to get ready for the needs that come with cars that go by plugging in instead of pumping full of fuel.

“Right now, is Tampa ready for what’s coming in the future?” asked 8 On Your Side’s Marco Villarreal.

“No it’s not, as we look ahead. The good news is, nor is the auto industry in general,” said Vik Bhide, the director of the mobility department for City of Tampa.

There’s a storm brewing and Florida is tingling. Not with electricity in the air, but on four wheels.

“Other things to consider are how are we going to implement this infrastructure? Who are the players? Really the easy answer there, it’s going to take a village,” said Bhide.

The City of Tampa is looking ahead to a future of electric vehicles on city streets. As great as this will be for the environment it presents new challenges. There will need to be infrastructure changes to deal with people’s “range anxiety” or fear of being left stranded with out a place to charge up battery powered vehicles.

Currently the city has 20 public parking and charging stations. They’ll need a lot more if they expect to see 40% of EV’s on the roads by the mid 2030’s.

“The private sector has a big role to play here. Primarily because we’re looking at a technology change and the private sector does a better job than the public sector. We need them. We need them to adapt as it goes so we’ll all be working together,” said Bhide.

Another big challenge is how will this all get paid for. Currently funding comes from a gas tax. It’s a global conversation happening in city offices. Will this new funding come from other taxes? Will it be fee based?

The electrification of Tampa Bay brings a whirlwind of emotions.

“Nervous, hopeful, optimistic, it’s a mix of emotions, but we’re also looking at the big prize,” said Bhide.

While the city gets ready for what they can now. They say the biggest thing needed is standardization and policy changes.

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