For years, Los Angeles International Airport has offered generous parking deals to drivers of electric-assisted cars as an incentive to encourage Californians to purchase the environmentally-friendly yet expensive vehicles. Now LAX has pulled the plug.
Like everywhere else in the cash-starved state, the airport owned by the city of Los Angeles ended the pro-green parking policy as of Saturday to increase revenue.
Before the new policy, electric-car drivers could park in two of the airport's most expensive parking lots at a big discount — as in free — compared to the $30 a day charged drivers of non-electric autos. The lots also happen to have convenient electric charging stations.
According to the Wall Street Journal, if both lots were completely filled by electric vehicles the airport would lose $120,000 daily, that's nearly $44 million annually.
"No one understands why we're doing this — especially in today's economy," airport spokeswoman Nancy Castles told the Journal
about the free parking.
According to airport officials, the green parking incentive was no longer financially sustainable and led to areas of the lot designated for electric cars turning into mob scenes with short-term electric-car drivers competing for space with those who leave their cars in a spot for weeks at a time.
Electric-car owners are not happy with the new measure, with some claiming the reason they decided to purchase a more expensive, green car was because of the parking incentive at LAX.
"That was a huge reason why I bought the car in the first place," says Jack Luu, 35, a post-production company executive from Santa Monica.
With the removal of the parking benefit, his ride is "expensive, underpowered and not really all that green," said Luu, considering his car runs only 12 miles on electricity before switching to gas.
Luu's sentiments were shared by Jack Sheng, owner of an e-commerce company owner. He bought a Nissan Leaf last year and had wanted to see the free parking program expanded to include all eight lots, not just the two that contain charging stations.
"If they're trying to get people to drive green cars and reduce the pollution, shouldn't the policy be applicable to the whole terminal?" asked Sheng.
According to Brett Williams, who oversees electric-vehicle research at UCLA's Luskin School of Public Affairs, over a quarter of the nation's 40,000 or so electric cars that are in use are located in Southern California.
Though no other major U.S. airports had offered parking packages to electric-vehicle drivers as generous as LAX, limited free parking for electric-car drivers is available at airports in Las Vegas, Cincinnati, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, and New Haven, Conn.
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