State will grant parking perks for Prius, other hybrid vehicles:

The right car-not an early arrival or high rank-will soon get state workers the best parking spaces at the Indiana Government Center.

As an incentive for its workers to drive less-polluting cars, the state plans to give drivers of hybrid cars the coveted spaces in the basement of the parking garage at West and Washington streets.

Those would be the spaces right outside the tunnel entrance to the government center.

The hybrid parking signs should go up within a month, said Phil Giddens, director of the Greening the Government program for the state.

“We’re trying to encourage behavior that, among other things, reduces emissions,” Giddens said.

He noted that Marion County has been deemed in “non-attainment” of federal regulations on ozone pollution. That could eventually spur the feds to mandate vehicle emissions testing, among other penalties.

Giddens also wants to get more cars off the road as a way to reduce congestion.

The state already gives preferential parking near the tunnel entrance to carpoolers.

No one knows how many state workers drive the relatively pricey hybrids. They use electric motors to assist the vehicle’s gasoline engine. Besides spewing less pollution, they require less gasoline.

Giddens also has been trying to encourage van- and carpooling.

Some state government workers drive to Indianapolis from as far as Sellersburg, about 100 miles away in southeast Indiana.

An estimated 300-or about 2.8 percent-of state workers, now use alternative transportation.

Meanwhile, to encourage workers to take the bus, the state within the next month plans to make bus passes available at the Department of Natural Resources customer service center on the first floor of the Indiana Government Center South.

Officials also are exploring the idea of building a locker room to encourage more workers to bicycle or walk to work.

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