Day #018: Free and unlimited parking for hybrids and electric cars

Forget the repealed state alternative fuel registration fee, Richmond should incentivize hybrids and electric cars.

Inspired by Michael Bierut’s 100 Day Project, 100 Days to a Better RVA strives to introduce and investigate unique ideas to improving the city of Richmond. View the entire project here and the intro here.

  • Idea: Free unlimited parking for hybrids and electric vehicles.
  • Difficulty: 2 — Parking is the third rail of city politics, but this would affect few enough people that it could actually work.

The city of Richmond should allow hybrid/electric vehicles to forgo payment on neighborhood parking permits. They should allow hybrid/electric vehicles to violate one, two, and three hour parking limits, and they should allow hyrbid/electric vehicles to park in metered spots for free or for a reduced price.1 Virginia has already taken a step toward incentivizing hybrid usage, and Richmond should take another small step.

The landmark achievement of Governor Bob McDonnell’s up-and-down term was his 2012 transportation bill. While the bill ultimately passed both houses in the state legislature, it angered hybrid and electric car owners across the state because of a $100 fee that would be applied to automobiles that use alternative fuel.

Our auto-centric society is funded in many ways including the state gasoline tax. McDonell argued that vehicles that use alternative fuels don’t pay their fair share for infrastructure. According to CBS 6, the law did more than make up for the difference in gas taxes applied to drivers.

Dr. Carl Scotese, an economics professor at VCU, fact checked what hybrid car users pay in state gas taxes versus what new sedan owners pay.

Assuming both cars drive 12,000 miles a year and the new sedan gets 30 mpg, while the average hybrid gets 50 mpg with a state gas tax of 17.5 cents per gallon, Scotese says the sedan owner pays just $28 more than the hybrid driver.

In January, the state repealed the hybrid motorists fee before it affected anyone, but this still misses the bigger point. Driving hybrid cars and electric cars is an important way we can attempt to limit pollution and dependence on foreign oil–which benefits everyone in society.

Allowing free parking would cost the city very little while sending a powerful message that we are a city conscious of the larger problems of the world and are committed to taking small steps to mitigating their consequences.

Love this idea? Think it’s terrible? Have one that’s ten times better? Head over to the 100 Days to a Better RVA Facebook page and join in the conversation.

Photo by: altopower

  1. Of course, other restrictions for roadwork and street cleaning would still apply. 
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Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

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