Could New York City Payphones Be Converted to EV Charging Stations?

Could New York City payphones be converted to EV charging stations?
Could New York City payphones be converted to EV charging stations?

In an intriguing development across New York City, there is speculation that the authorities may soon look at converting existing payphones into electric car charging stations. On the surface this may look like yet another crazy idea connected with the electric vehicle industry but if you take a step back and consider the options, it may just be feasible.

In yet another sign that the electric vehicle industry is set to go mass-market, people are now actually looking at converting existing payphone units into electric vehicle charging stations. But what are the potential problems and drawbacks?

Access problems

Perhaps the major problem which the EV industry will encounter when converting existing payphones into electric vehicle charging stations is their location. The vast majority are located in situations which are not amenable to parking cars to recharge their batteries, although there are some which could be transformed with very little fuss. It will be interesting to see how the authorities tackle this particular problem.

Quote from : "I'd like to pose a dilema that cities all over the world are dealing with. Private resident EV owners who park in the street because they don't have a driveway. How do they charge their car?"

There is every chance that payphones along the motorway could also come under the conversion focus or even possibly retain the rescue payphone services in addition add battery charging facilities.

Technological drawbacks

When looking at standard payphones across New York City it becomes evident that there is a potential problem in the short term because of the fact they operate on standard 120 V power supply. This is by all means amenable to the recharging of electric vehicles, but at a very slow rate - although the fact there are cables already fed underground offers the potential to upgrade these to 240 V power supplies in due course.

On the surface it looks as though there may be technological issues but when you dig a little deeper, no pun intended, there should be no problems converting the power supply required for fast charging of EVs.

Is the answer staring us in the face?

It will be interesting to see whether the New York City authorities decide to go ahead with a test conversion of some payphones into electric vehicle charging stations. Will they also attempt to upgrade the power supply to incorporate fast charging facilities or will they hold back and see whether the slow charging facilities attract the attention of electric vehicle drivers?

When you bear in mind the potentially enormous cost of digging underground to supply future EV charging stations, the ability to utilise existing cable networks created for payphones could save billions of dollars around the world. It would also ensure that one of the major issues in the minds of potential EV owners, journey capacity, would begin to fade into the background and allow us to focus upon the benefits going forward.


The idea of converting existing payphones, which have to all intents and purposes been replaced by cellphones, is an intriguing opportunity in the short, medium and longer term. It will be interesting to see whether any local authorities around the world grasp this nettle and at least attempt to create a test network and measure feedback from the EV community.