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City Offers Parking Discount To Fuel-Efficient Car Owners

July 15, 2005
By OSHRAT CARMIEL, Courant Staff Writer

There's a new 50 percent discount on parking in Hartford's three public garages. If, that is, you happen to meet the following criteria:

You must be a monthly parker, and must own a fuel-efficient car that can muster at least 30 miles per gallon of gas on city streets and the highway.

The Hartford Parking Authority board voted Thursday to test out a program that rewards car owners who have made a commitment to fuel conservation.

"We want to promote energy independence. We'd like to promote fuel efficiency," said Jim Kopencey, executive director of the Hartford parking authority. "We'd like to encourage cars that are healthier for the environment."

The discount will begin on September 1 and will last for six months, after which the authority will assess the proposal's long-term financial feasibility. Officials aren't sure how many cars would qualify-the offer is extended to current and future monthly parkers-but they say it will likely be fewer than five percent of the total parkers.

"That's the wild card here," Kopencey said.

Owners of cars certified by the federal Environmental Protection Agency as being fuel efficient qualify for the discount: the Honda Insight, Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid, Volkswagen Jetta Wagon TDI, Volkswagen New Beetle TDI and the Ford Escape Hybrid 2WD.

Those cars will receive a 50 percent discount on the $140 a month it costs to park at the Morgan Street garage and on the $150 it costs to park per month at the MAT and Church Street garages.

"We can't control buying habits," said parking commissioner Richard Twilley, who proposed the idea. "But I see two incentives here. First, for those who don't drive efficient vehicles, to drive efficient vehicles. Second, for those who park in private lots with their high efficiency vehicles to park in our public lots with those high efficiency vehicles. It's an experiment."

Twilley said he got the idea from New Haven, which last week began a similar policy.

In that city, residents who drive fuel efficient or alternatively fueled cars may park for free in the city's metered spaces, said Derek Slap, a spokesman for New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr.

Based on an estimate of New Haven's grand list, officials there predict about 80 cars will qualify for the program.

"I don't think Hartford is second to anybody," Twilley said, "whether it's New Haven, New Delhi, New York. I thought Hartford could do better."

After approving the plan Thursday, board members held a press conference with Mayor Eddie A. Perez, who described the proposal as "environmentally friendly."

The board voted 4-1 in favor of the idea, with board treasurer Paddi LeShane casting the opposing vote.

LeShane said later she liked the idea, but said she would have liked more detailed financial information to assure herself that the garage's revenue would not be harmed by it.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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