A1 EV car charging station from repurposed phone booth

Somewhere in the offices of Telekom Austria, two charts were displayed with lines moving in different directions. One showed the steep decline of people using their 13,500 phone booths. The other showed the rapid increase of people using electric cars in Austria and in need of EV Charging Stations, with predictions that 405,000 people would be driving them by 2020.

The diverging lines inspired Telekom Austria to move in a new direction. They began transforming the phone booths into electric car charging stations.

As public phone booth use plummets in almost every urban area, most cities ignore the potential that exists in the networked, powered infrastructure units and simply remove them from the streets. “Phone graveyards” of thousands of rusting booths are their eventual end.

Telekom Austria took a different, resourceful approach to their underused phone booths. As part of the “Green Innovation in Austria” initiative, Telekom Austria’s A1 division has been steadily replacing their phone booths with EV Charging Stations for almost a decade.

“Since 2010 A1 has been turning telephone booths into electric vehicle charging stations,” says the company, “thereby supporting environmentally-friendly electro-mobility.”

Telekom Austria is moving forward in phases, making optimum use of existing assets along the way. In the first phase of the project, they reconfigured 30 phone booths to use their communication capabilities to provide multimedia stations to offer on-street parking spaces and information for electric vehicles. Over the next few years, these stations will then be steadily upgraded, eventually offering the ability to charge multiple electric vehicles from one former phone booth.

This project and dozens of others are featured in the Reprogramming the City Book!