There is a great trend in hybrid incentives in the United States.
Some areas are offering more incentives than others, with California likely offering the most.
Employers are giving employees cash toward the purchase of hybrid cars, while other businesses are offering parking incentives.
The goal in promoting the purchase of a hybrid car is to help the environment. In helping the environment however, consumers are able to save thousands on gas costs, insurance costs, taxes, and parking.
Free parking incentives
California is the leader in hybrid incentives, which is not surprising since they are also leaders in most environmental issues. The entire state is focusing on hybrid promotion, but several cities are going even further to offer free parking to hybrid drivers.
San Jose offers free parking at downtown San Jose public parking facilities. This also includes on-street meters. In Los Angeles, hybrid cars can park at parking meters for free.
Although the hybrid cars can park for free, they can still be ticketed for exceeding the time allotment for metered spaces. Albuquerque, New Mexico and New Haven, Connecticut has also adopted legislation allowing free parking within city limits.
Many of the cities that are offering free parking to their hybrid-owning citizens and visitors do require a few steps be taken before drivers can take advantage of the free parking. First, drivers of hybrids must contact the city transportation office.
Upon contact, the driver will have to prove they own a hybrid and obtain a special decal for their car. This decal alerts police that the car should not be fined when parked for free.
Many drivers never get around to getting a decal and therefore, never reap the benefits of free parking. In addition to the decals, cities are training their parking officers in hybrid vehicles.
They are making the officers familiar with styles of acceptable hybrids so that the officers can be aware of anyone who is trying to park with a decal, but is not driving a hybrid.
Several cities are not offering free parking for hybrid owners, but they are offering parking discounts. The University of Miami offers a 50% parking discount for drivers who own hybrids.
Baltimore offers discounted parking for hybrid owners at 15 city locations. The city has blocked off several parking spots on the first floor of each of the 15 locations, totaling around 200 spots initially.
Drivers must apply for a permit and they are available on a first come, first serve basis. There is a waiting list for those unable to get on the list. In Westchester, New York, hybrid car owners are allowed to park on city owned lots. There is no cost to the owners of the hybrids. There are only about 100 spots dedicated to hybrids however.
Will free parking incentives pay off later?
When it comes to the question of whether free parking will pay later or not, there is no sure answer. There is however the fact that studies has shown that hybrid vehicles are great for the environment and reduce pollution in communities.
Offering parking incentives may not encourage consumers to purchase hybrids however, especially since there are not an abundance of spaces offered in many cities.
With only a handful of cities participating in free or discounted parking programs, it is likely they are making a significant impact nationwide. Locally however, these cities are encouraging their citizens to be responsible drivers. They are attempting to make their communities healthier and environmentally safe. The message is strong, even if the impact is not.
It is likely the government in states like California is taking a moderate hit in the amount of parking fees they collect due to the free or discounted parking legislation.
It is true however that they will likely spend less in environmental costs in the long run. Offering free parking for hybrid owners is a small price to pay for the promotion of responsible environmental choices.
States like California spend thousands each year on eco-friendly advertising, so it is likely that this is much cheaper than any commercial they make. Overall, it is all about the message being sent through these incentives.
Most hybrid owners think of these incentives as icing on the cake, when it comes to their car. They are already enjoying gas price decreases and are helping the environment. With the cities applauding them as well, it can’t get any better.