Massachusetts Urged to Offer Hybrid Car Incentives
Boston Globe editorial staff endorses allowing hybrid-electric vehicles access to state's I-93 HOV lanes to encourage sales.
WITH CONGRESS and the Bush administration refusing to raise fuel-efficiency standards for cars, states are on their own in encouraging the public to buy vehicles that use less gasoline and emit fewer pollutants, including greenhouse gases. Massachusetts should follow the lead of other states and permit solo drivers of hybrid cars to use the Interstate 93 lanes reserved for high-occupancy vehicles.
Cars like the Toyota Prius, which the manufacturer says gets 48 miles per gallon, use both a conventional gasoline engine and an electric motor. Unlike all-electric cars, there is no need to recharge a battery overnight. Currently, there are an estimated 250,000 hybrids in use in the United States. If gasoline prices continue the climb of the past year, access to the HOV lanes and other incentives will hardly be necessary to spur purchase of hybrids.
But such special privileges can ensure that hybrids maintain their popularity even if gasoline prices fall. If hybrids become so popular that they begin to clog the now lightly used lanes, access can be denied to solo drivers. During his campaign for governor, Mitt Romney suggested charging higher auto-excise taxes for vehicles with low gas mileage. The head of his Office of Commonwealth Development, Douglas Foy, has suggested reserving special parking places at suburban rail stations for owners of hybrids.
Spc. Jeffrey Hamme and Staff Sgt. Michelangelo Merksamer of HHC, 1/506th Infantry, point out features of the Hybrid Electric Humvee at the AUSA Annual Meeting earlier this month. The two Soldiers participated in a Military Utility Assessment of the prototype vehicle last month at Fort Campbell, Ky.
Ford's 'Hybrid Patrol,' a 10-city initiative this fall that aims to show hybrid drivers how to drive for best fuel economy. EV World photo of Bill and Lisa Hammond on way to first Ford Patrol event in Detroit during stop-over in Omaha.