Special Parking for Hybrids

(Photo: Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious)

My wife took four grandkids to the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, New Jersey.  Looking for a parking space, she noticed the usual handicapped parking spots near the entrance, but also parking spaces reserved for hybrid vehicles.  The Aquarium, though not government-run, appears concerned about environmental issues and apparently tries to encourage energy conservation by making a visit easier for those who have chosen energy-efficient vehicles.  The private sector is implicitly subsidizing the purchase of hybrid cars, not by offering monetary incentives, but by subsidizing the time cost of owning these cars.  I suppose one can object that the subsidy matters more to those whose time is more valuable—presumably higher earners; but it’s still a neat way for the private sector to encourage energy efficiency.  I wonder how many other examples exist of explicit non-monetary subsidies by the private sector? (HT to FWH)

Paul Rickter

I've seen these in a few places and, as a driver of a very efficient but non-hybrid small car, I kind of resent them. No problem with seeing a Prius parked in one of these spots, but seeing one of those ridiculous hybrid SUVs that gets MUCH worse gas mileage than my Mazda 3? If we want to encourage more fuel efficiency, the incentive should be on vehicles that actually use less fuel than other vehicles, not on vehicles that use less fuel than vehicles in the same class.


I feel the same as you do. I drive a Kia Spectra that regularly gets over 40 mpg. It's not hip, and it's not "green".

Ben Frederick

I don't claim to be an expert on this, but believe that this is a requirement for LEED certification, which also makes certain tax credits and other benefits available. So it may represent at least an indirect government subsidy.


That's correct. The office building where I used to work undertook LEED certification and one of the things they got points for was adding two "Hybrid" parking stalls. As others have pointed out, making the hybrid distinction is quite arbitrary because there are other kinds of efficient vehicles out there. Some of my co-workers had a habit of parking their non-hybrid cars in the stalls.


Why not park your non-hybrid there anyway?

Is there some force of coercion (towing, tickets, fines) that goes along with hybrid only spacees (or expecting mother, or employee of the month)?

One could consider them to be parking spaces reserved for those clever enough to realize the lack of penalty for parking there.


Good point. Like when I park in the "expectant mother" spots at the grocery store. I'm not sure there is anything they can legally do to my car at that point either.

(and don't worry, I'm not a monster and I don't always do it. It's usually later at night and/or when no other spots are available. Or even when I don't notice until I'm pulling in.)


"I’m not sure there is anything they can legally do to my car at that point either."

Well, assuming they 1) caught you, 2) cared enough, and 3) you refused to move I assume they could have your car towed, since it's private property and you're trespassing at that point. The likelihood of meeting all three conditions is probably pretty low.


hi this is good

Al E.

Our new local Library has a reserved spot for low-emissions vehicles.

It is not universally appreciated, however, especially by one woman who aggressively parks her decidedly-not-low-emissions minivan there occasionally.

But, mostly, it's not a big deal. Most of the people who would have an issue with it don't seem to visit libraries very often.

s P

Al E. That is a pretty unscientific assumption.


I've got an example of public non-monetary subsidies...in DC area hybrids were allowed to use the HOV lanes with one person a few years ago.

Neil (SM)

That still applies in VA (I think it never did in MD). The car just has to get clean fuel plates to designate it as such -- so it only applies to VA residents.

carlos k

meanwhile, those in gas-guzzlers circle the parking lot, searching for a space.


Perhaps there's also some (small-ish) benefit to having less exhaust fumes near entrances to businesses.


Hooray! Special parking spaces for rich people!

All you slobs driving regular cars -- back of the line.


The basic Prius has come down to the price of a standard car and has many
excellent features included at that price. I mean in addition to the 60 mpg. CHeck it out.


Toyota advertises 50MPG for the prius; achieving that requires driving techniques most Prius drivers don't adhere to and are, at least in the case of the regenerative braking, arguably dangerous in the presence of other traffic. It would be interesting to see some (honest) stats on what sort of mileage hybrid drivers get; I suspect it isn't significantly better than a comparable econobox, some of which you can get loaded for a lot less money. The Prius is a great car; just not as great as a lot of it's promoters say.

For Paul, I'd agree large hybrid SUVs are a little silly, except in fleet uses. A police department or taxi company could actually save a lot of money with a vehicle that got 20 MPG in the city. As with the Prius, true mileage would probably be less due to driving technique, but still far better than the 8-10 MPG they're getting from their Crown Vics.


In the late 90s it was popular for businesses to say they were "green" especially for marketing purposes. However, there was no standard as to what "green" meant. So the US Green Building Council established the LEED rating system which gives points for designers/builders if they perform certain environmentally friendly construction or design practices. The more points, the more green the building is, and so now their is a measuring stick for environmental friendliness.

One point in the LEED system is easily (and cheaply) obtained by making some of the best parking spots for low emission vehicles. I would think this aquarium is LEED certified and that is why the privileged spots exist. Some other examples of LEED practices that encourage the public to be green are installing bike racks and showers/locker rooms and having parking spaces with outlets to plug in hybrid cars.


This may be a little off topic, but something that's always ignore are the people that drive traditional gasoline-engine cars that get as good gas mileage as some hybrids.


There are also the people who live close to work so that their 25 MPG car uses much less than people driving hybrids 5x the distance.


This is interesting. With skyrocketing fuel prices, there will inevitably be a shift towards more eco-friendly cars. But yet, the cash incentive is just not there yet for people to sacrifice horsepower for a few extra dollars saved on gasoline. People often value time more than money, so time-incentives like these are definitely a step in the right direction.

John Smith

Carpartheid. It's last acceptable form of "separate and unequal."

Diane Romm

In Israel, the city of Haifa offers free parking throughout the city to anyone with a hybrid car.


It is only a subsidy if no one else parks in those spots. As I've always understood it Hybrid Parking, Expectant Mother Parking, and other "special" parking designations beyond Handicapped Parking are 100% about marketing. The aquarium wants to appear environmental friendly, the department stores want to subtly implant the idea of purchasing infant products before you walk inside to shop.

The disabled need their parking spots and have plates/placards which prove their eligibility for such spaces plus their are local and state laws backing the placement and size of spaces and their enforcement. There is no way to prove/disprove eligibility for all the other special parking designations and they have no legal standing and thus are unenforceable and meaningless. So go ahead and park in them.


I for one object to this. "Hybrids" today are by and large not like the Prius where gas milage is the primary goal. When I see a 3.5 ton SUV with a hybrid sticker on the back it's not for gas milage, its for performance and marketing.

I drive a manual transmission car which tend to get 10% better milage with a bad driver and 20% or so with a good one vs their automatic counter parts. In fact, I get almost double the gas milage of some of these "Hybrid" SUVs. Where is my parking spot?


Yea I regularly park in those spots because there is no punishment for violating rules. Same goes for expectant mother/people with children spots. I feel less guilty parking in them when the stores not crowded but I won't let a companies altruism get in the way of a good spot.


I wonder what they will do when someone parks their 1999 rust bucket ford taurus flex-fuel filled with gasoline there . . .


"Other example of an explicit non-monetary subsidy by the private sector?"
Apple accepts non functional Apple devices for store credit. The obsolete devices which contain toxic metals don't enter the regular municipal trash and Apple hopes customers buy the new product with their credit.


Forgot to mention that there is an 'aftermarket' for non functional Apple devices on craigslist for people who want to get rid of the item but do not want to buy a new one from Apple. The ecosystem of devices and aftermarkets is amazing these days.


I understand giving handicapped people parking spots to make their lives easier. But seriously, the rest of us wanting to park close to a business entrance isn't logical, not when Americans so desperately need exercise.

So giving hybrids special parking does what - encourages hybrid owners to die sooner since they hardly ever have to walk anywhere? Well, I guess that might be good if you don't like those who are rich & image-conscious...