New Florida limo ad pays to promote a free limo program

Free limo ads paid for by Florida taxpayers, a new lawsuit says. 

The complaint, filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Florida, says the advertising campaign “advocates for free parking in free limos” and “takes a pro-free-parking position by providing information about free limousine programs” in a Florida news article.

The ad, which ran in the Tampa Bay Times, said “there is no charge to pay to park in the free limouette program.” 

It says “you can park at the free valet” and then “your car is free to use for free for 30 minutes.”

The newspaper said the campaign also called for the establishment of a free parking garage “to attract free limus from around the world” and for the county to provide “a free parking lot” for people.

The ad says the “free parking” would also be free to those who have “earned the privilege to use free parking.” 

The Times also reported the ad was funded by the National Association of Free Parking Agencies, which said the group had “received no financial support from NAFPA in the past five years.” 

NAFPA says the group has received “no financial support for the past three years.”

The Times story included the following information:The Florida Legislature is scheduled to discuss legislation this month that would allow the state to ban free parking. 

A study by the Florida Department of Transportation found that nearly 70 percent of motorists who park in a garage would rather be free than pay. 

“The Legislature is making the right decision in moving forward with this legislation and ensuring Florida’s economy is thriving,” said Assemblywoman Rebecca Viator, R-Gainesville, who chairs the Transportation Committee.

“The free parking program is the only way to help us protect the environment and provide jobs.” 

State lawmakers and advocates for free car parking say the proposed legislation would make it more difficult for drivers to use public transportation. 

Florida’s General Assembly voted last year to create a free-park-park program, allowing drivers to park for 30-minutes for free and paying for their own trips.

 The bill also would require the state’s Transportation Department to create and operate a free car-sharing service to help people find parking in private garages and free parking lots. 

Other cities in Florida that have launched similar programs include Orlando, St. Petersburg and Miami-Dade.

In January, New York City began requiring drivers to pay for parking and said it was adding more car-share services.

But the program is not widely available, and the cost of paying for parking is still a major barrier for many people, said Chris Smith, executive director of the California-based nonprofit Transportation Alternatives. 

Free parking in New York costs about $5.70 per hour, but in Florida, it is a few dollars more, he said. 

For more information about car-rental programs, visit car-pay.org or carrental.gov.