No more free parking: Big incentive for electric vehicle owners is ending

No more free parking: Big incentive for electric vehicle owners is ending
Electric vehicle, File Image (Source: HNN File)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A perk drivers of electric vehicles once enjoyed will soon be a thing of the past.

Come July 1, electric vehicles will no longer get free parking at state and county facilities. This includes airports and metered street stalls.

The incentives are set to expire after a bill that would’ve extended the benefit three years stalled in the state house.

“It certainly wasn’t your typical legislative session,” DOT spokesman Tim Sakahara said. “I think a lot of things might’ve been different had the coronavirus not been here, and it is likely that this issue would’ve been addressed.”

Sakahara said prior to the pandemic annually, Honolulu’s airport alone lost $4 million in revenue giving free parking to EVs.

The incentives were put in place in 2012 to make buying an electric vehicle more appealing to Hawaii residents. June 30, 2020 is the original date those benefits were set to expire.

“I think financial incentives clearly make a big difference. The parking benefits and the other benefits, they worked for a certain select group of people that they worked for,” State Rep. Nicole Lowen, chair of the House Energy Committee, said.

One benefit not going away: EVs will still be allowed in HOV lanes under a separate rule.

Its not clear why House leaders killed the extension, but the bump in parking revenue will no doubt help the state collect extra money in a time where cutbacks are being figured out.

“Yeah, it creates a challenge for all kinds of ideas we had on the table before hand. That’s in addition to the new financial challenges with the budget shortfalls,” Lowen added.

The bill to extend the incentives could be revived if House leaders changed their position, but time to do so is running out in this limited session shortened by the COVID crisis.

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