All good things must come to an end, and the end is approaching for one minor Prius perk: Free parking in the city of Los Angeles.
On March 1, free parking at LA city meters will end for owners of the four hybrids that qualify for California state Clean Air Vehicle stickers: not only the Toyota Prius, but also the Ford Escape Hybrid, Honda Civic Hybrid, and (1999-2006) Honda Insight.
The free parking was one of several perks offered within California to Prius drivers. Perhaps the most valuable is use of High-Occupancy Vehicle lanes during rush hour, even with only a single person in the car. Two years ago, the state offered 70,000 HOV-Lane stickers to hybrid owners, and they were snapped up within several months.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, used Prius models with the stickers were advertised for as much as $2,500 more than comparable used Priuses without stickers. That premium may fall, though, as the economy gets worse and Bay Area traffic abates as a result.
Another Prius perk used to be a Federal tax credit for purchase of a hybrid vehicle, though Toyota's allocation of credits was used up long ago since it sells far more hybrids than all other makers put together. Some states offered state tax credits of their own as well.
As the City of Los Angeles did, Salt Lake City also offers free parking. So do other cities within California, Michigan, and Connecticut. Overseas, Priuses are exempt from London's notorious and pricey inner-city congestion charge, though as for the rest of the programs, the car must be registered beforehand with authorities.
[Photo from Flickr user Rasputina2]