NYC to raise on-street parking rates, local news freaks out

New York City has some of the most underpriced parking in the nation, and while there have been a few pilot programs (in the UES, the West Village, and Park Slope) to raise rates during peak hours, it looks like Bloomberg is finally pushing to implement Park Smart citywide.  Residential metered hourly rates throughout the city will be bumped up to $1 (they were 50¢ just six months ago) and commercial rates will rise to $3 (they were $2 six months ago). Beyond this, peak on-street parking in the busiest commercial zones will cost even more.

The Post loads its article with driver outrage (headline: “Feed it and weep!  Meter$ jacked up”; opening line: “Park your wallet right here, drivers.”), but at least towards the end they suggest a benefit of the program: “More than half of the business owners and drivers in the area said parking became easier once the more expensive pilot program went into effect.”

The CBS affiliate starts off interviewing a guy who lives on the Upper West Side who thinks that Bloomberg “should pay for [parking] himself.  Dip into his pocket […] and put it to the city.”  The interviewer then asks, “And pay for your parking?” and he answers, completely unashamed, “Right!”  The next guy complains about how tough it is to survive in the city, while he commuters by car from Rockville Centre in Nassau County (median household income: $99,299). He’s joined in this opinion by a fellow Long Island resident from Melville (median household income: $92,527). After a city representative notes that it’s a steal compared to off-street garages and an UES physician agrees, the presenter finishes by announcing plans to charge “sky high rates” on busy commercial streets during peak hours – so they’ll be higher than the $3.75/hour that they are now. Though the article mentions that the program intends to make parking easier and correct pricing imbalances, they paint the program as a revenue generator more than anything.

Bonus quote in another local CBS article from someone from Rockdale about the rising cost of commuting by car: “They keep raping us.  Can I afford it?  Really not.  I’ll have to adjust something else.”

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  • Steven Vance

    New study says that television is the best place to get bad news.

    Study sponsored by me.

    After the City of Chicago sold its parking meter system to Chicago Parking Meters, LLC (Morgan Stanely, Macquarie, et. al.), the rates were raised (and will continue to rise on an almost annual basis). People still drive. The biggest complaints were actually with futzing the rollout and malfunctioning “muni meters.”

    Does anyone think this would be effective in garnering support: Explaining that it costs the city X dollars to maintain parking spaces (with an explanation at how they arrived at the figure) and that, at current rates, the city is taking funds from other programs to pay for maintaining said parking spaces. Therefore, it needs to charge what it costs. (The same argument goes for supporting a rise in the gas tax, which pays for only a portion of projects, while the remainder comes from general funding.)

  • Stephen

    The problem with that for parking spaces is that they really don’t cost much to “operate.” The real loss of value comes in their opportunity cost – that is, what price could the city get for the underlying land if it weren’t a parking spot? At minimum this means the highest price any motorist would pay to park there or perhaps any nearby restaurant/cafe would pay to use the place as seating, and if you wanna get even more theoretical this includes the price that you could get if you literally sold off the piece of land with 100% development rights. At that point the question becomes, how much could a private entrepreneur charge for either a car or bus driving in the lane, or for a private rail service, or even for a very narrow building on that plot.

  • Steven Vance

    I’d love to say that’s what I meant when I said “maintain” the parking space.

    Also in the contract between the City and the parking meter operator is the clause the that City must reimburse the operator for the maximum missed revenue during events when the parking spaces are unused (typically street festivals). This is an absolute shame on the City and the Council (for making such an agreement without any deliberation or public involvement) and makes it difficult to reallocate parking spaces for other uses (as you described). However, if the City wants to remove parking spaces in one area, this can happen without reimbursement if the equivalent price and quantity of parking spaces are created elsewhere.