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Who taught YOU to drive?

Airport parking for hybrids only: Who knew?

The Logan Airport parking garage lets owners of hybrid vehicles park closer to the terminals. The Logan Airport parking garage lets owners of hybrid vehicles park closer to the terminals. (Peter DeMarco for The Boston Globe)
By Peter DeMarco
August 29, 2010

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When picking up someone at the airport I have one goal: Wait as long at the curb as possible to avoid paying a fee. If I have to enter a garage, I’ll do it. Begrudgingly.

On a recent plane ride, though, a fellow passenger told me that Logan Airport has special parking for hybrid vehicles, a reward for travelers who go green. I don’t own a hybrid, but the conversation got me thinking: Is there more to parking at Logan than my usual routine?

Jack Hemphill, Massport’s airport parking expert, confirmed my suspicions. He talked at length about the hybrid spots, but did I also know about the cellphone waiting lot? Or the new economy parking garage that’s going to boost Logan parking by 2,100 spots when construction’s finished next spring?

“It’s good for us to get the word out about these things,’’ Hemphill said.

So, this week, we present the ABCs of airport parking. With the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks coming up, we’ll update the State Police’s current curbside parking rules as well.

Cellphone lot
An airport parking lot where you can wait for an incoming flight up to 30 minutes for free? For whatever reason I missed the news on this, even though Massport hyped it and former Globe colleague Peter Howe wrote a lengthy piece when it debuted in 2007. The small lot — 50 spaces — is located on Harborside Drive near the Hyatt Harborside, so it’s slightly out-of-the-way. But if you’re 15 minutes early picking up someone, or their flight is running a little late, the detour won’t matter.

Sure beats paying $3 for a half an hour in the central parking garage, or circling the airport until you get the call that the flight has landed.

Curbside parking
Does it seem as though the police let you park outside terminal doors a lot longer nowadays? I parked for close to 10 minutes my last time at Logan before getting shooed away, the longest I’ve been allowed to wait in the post-9/11 era.

Officially, “There is no curbside parking at Logan Airport,’’ said State Police spokesman David Procopio. (The Transportation Security Administration deferred to the State Police on this.)

That said, Procopio didn’t contradict what I’ve been observing lately. Police can use discretion when moving cars off the curb, and overall, they are less draconian than two, five, or certainly nine years ago.

“As the commander of [the airport’s] State Police Troop F described it, it is more of an art than a science,’’ Procopio said. “We strive to be reasonable in enforcing the parking ban. You have probably seen troopers trying to be as helpful to the public as possible while still enforcing the restriction. I’d say your observations show that our approach is working well.’’

Hybrid parking
Hybrid parking spots arrived at Logan two years ago in conjunction with other green initiatives and have proven so popular that the number of spots has risen from 100 to more than 160, most of them on the sixth floor of the central parking garage, Hemphill said. The spots are close to terminal entrances, a tiny reward for going green.

Electric cars, such as the upcoming Chevy Volt, will be allowed to park in the spaces, and if such cars prove popular, Massport may consider a charging station for the garage.

“It’s on our radar screen,’’ Hemphill said.

Economy lots
A new, three-story economy parking garage near the airport exit is expected to open this spring, offering $18 a day rates, which is $6 less than the standard rate.

“With the growth of low-cost carriers like Southwest and Jet Blue we found that travelers’ demographics have changed. There are more leisure travelers looking for an economy product,’’ Hemphill said.

The garage will have about 3,000 spaces, taking the place of an economy lot in the same location that had 900 spaces. Shuttle buses will ferry users to and from terminals around the clock, and as a bonus, your seventh day of parking is free.

The airport now has four smaller economy lots offering similar rates. Check www.massport.com/logan for locations or follow airport signs.

Peter DeMarco can be reached at demarco@globe.com. He also updates a Facebook page, “WhotaughtYOUtodrive?’’