Idea Is To Reduce Congestion In Heavily Trafficked Boroughs, Promote Parking Turnover In Commercial Areas

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — If you drive in the city, it looks like you’ll soon be paying more to park at a meter.

The proposal was raised during a Department of Transportation budget hearing on Tuesday night, CBS2’s Janelle Burrell reported Thursday.

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DOT officials are billing the proposed meter rate increase as a way to ease congestion in the city. Higher prices, they hope, will encourage drivers to keep it moving, or keep their car at home.

“It’s a terrible idea because it costs enough as it is,” Cobble Hill resident Huge Lilienfeld said.

New York City parking meter (Photo: CBS2)

Most drivers CBS2’s Burrell spoke with don’t buy it.

“It feels like you’re getting punished for driving a car and getting gouged every step of the way,” said Valerie Wright of Park Slope.

“Hey, it’s like cigarettes. People pay $15 a pack for cigarettes. If they’re used to bringing the car, they’re not subway people,” added Randy Sokolovsky, also of Park Slope.

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Sokolvsky said if you’re a regular driver in the city, convincing motorists to use public transit is a tough sell — no matter the cost.

“They like their privacy, their music and who knows what else,” Sokolovsky said.

DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said the price changes will involve creating more rate zones to match the parking demand for the roughly 85,000 metered spots in neighborhoods around the five boroughs.

“New York City has among the lowest parking rates right now compared to other comparable cities,” Trottenberg said.

Right now, the price is $3.50 an hour below 96th Street. Between 96th and 110th, it’s $1.50 an hour, but could be raised as high as $6.50 an hour, like in Chicago. Everywhere else above 110th and in the outer boroughs it currently costs $1 an hour to park at a metered spot.

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The city is hoping to raise the price in heavily congested areas in the boroughs, and promote parking turnover in commercial areas.

“We’ve been working on different means of tackling congestion in the city, the issue of parking and how we can adjust rates and improve circulation,” Trottenberg said.

“I feel like something has to be done for congestion. It’s a step in the right direction. I don’t know if it will work. It’s a complicated issue,” Park Slope resident Will Seife said.

One that comes with a cost.

“It feels like there’s always a price tag,” Wright said.

Outer borough residents, where rates are currently the lowest, could feel the hike the most, CBS2’s Political Reporter Marcia Kramer noted.

In neighborhoods like Astoria, Queens, business owners say they’re afraid it will drive customers away.

“People rely heavily on these parking spots to get in and out for our business. And if we don’t have affordable parking, then they’re more likely not to come into this area,” said Yashima Bhatia.

Pressed for details, the DOT said “outer borough” hourly rates are $4 in Miami, $3 in Niagara Falls, $2 in Akron, Ohio,  $1.60 in Ann Arbor, Michigan and $1.50 in Durham, North Carolina.

“Don’t do it,” one man said.

“Parking is difficult as it is, and this just adds another impediment,” said a woman.

“I think we pay enough,” a man added.

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DOT officials said the metered parking in the city hasn’t gone up since 2013, but the prices could increase by the end of the year.