Greener Than Thou: Free Parking for Electric Cars

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Remarking on his Toyota Prius, Jack Luu says it is “expensive, underpowered, and not really all that green.” It's not so green because the vehicle runs only 12 miles before switching to gas. Then why buy? For the cheap parking, of course – at least according to Luu, who can park at LAX for a month’s length free of charge.

So subsidized parking of electric vehicles seems to have been a success to increase their consumption. But what happens when so many people want to park for free that the spaces become scarce? LAX has threatened to charge all rides equally for just that reason.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the airport, which is owned by the city of Los Angeles, loses as much as $44 million annually if the two lots open to free electric car parking were filled with free parkers. The increased demand for the free parking is creating chaos and congestion.

How do Luu and others feel about having to pay for parking? It is has been said that once something is provided by government it becomes expected, and that holds true here. If congestion is the problem, says one electric car driver, then they should provide free valet parking. Now there’s a way to spend more deficit dollars in California.

Holly Fretwell is a Research Fellow at PERC and an adjunct instructor at Montana State University where she has taught  introductory economics, macroeconomics, natural resources and environmental economics. She works with the Foundation for Teaching Economics, giving workshops for  high school teachers to improve their skills in teaching and...
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