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Tesla drivers stuck waiting 4 hrs+ at Central Coast charging stations during holiday travel

TESLA STATION BUELLTON
Nathalie Vera/KEYT.com
Drivers charge Teslas at a station in Buellton.

BUELLTON, Calif. -- The holiday traffic jam has been especially bad for electric car drivers. People were lining up at charging stations across the Central and South coast since Thursday, waiting hours to plug in their vehicles.

Although the I-5 is back open at the Grapevine, many were still taking longer routes through Highway 101 on Friday.

At the Tesla charging station in Buellton, some drivers were waiting in line for two hours, and then another one to two hours to actually charge their car.

“Both days were really terrible, the lines for charging," said Matthew Jacob, who stopped in Buellton on his way back to San Jose from Santa Barbara.

“I love Tesla, but it's the worst to drive during a holiday," said Vijay Shattha, who was heading to Mexico from San Francisco. “There's not enough super chargers for all these cars.”

Shattha says he had been waiting to plug in his vehicle since Thursday.

“Every super charger that's not on the 5 was 40 cars deep yesterday. So we finally got to this one, we started running out of charge so we had to park it here, get a hotel about 10 miles away in an Uber, come back this morning, wait in line for another hour and a half, and we're finally charging it."

Vivi Naumovski, who was on her way back to the Bay Area from L.A., was forced to reserve a last minute room with her family too.

“We were on the road for about 10 hours and decided that we were going to stay at Ventura Beach Marriott," Naumovski said, adding that after 40 years of making the same trip during the Christmas holiday, this time has been the worst.

Alison Sydney, a spokeswoman at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott (next to the charging station in Buellton), said drivers tried booking last minute rooms Thursday night too.

"We've been fully booked for the holidays, we had to turn people away," Sydney said. “We have had them line up around the hotel all morning and yesterday. We have a lot of Teslas here, we have 11 charging stations.”

As a courtesy, Tesla was providing complimentary coffee and sandwiches to drivers as they waited their turn to plug in.

“When you go to all the stations now, they are full," said Waldo Ortega, who had come in from Orange County. “What we try to do is schedule breakfast at a charge, and then lunch at a charge 'cause it takes us two charges to go from San Juan Capistrano to Mill Valley."

Ortega also had a message for Tesla CEO, Elon Musk:

“Musk, do a better job.”

For Sa'ar Yanav, who was renting a Tesla, the trip's complications were unexpected.

“It's my first experience," he said. "It wasn't the greatest.”

Similarly long lines were seen at the Tesla charging stations at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo.

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Nathalie Vera

Nathalie Vera is a reporter at KEYT|KCOY|KKFX.