25,000 Fewer (Official) Parking Placards for City Employees

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It took a little longer than expected, but the City is significantly shrinking the pool of parking placards available to public employees. The total number of placards allocated to certain departments — most notably NYPD — has been reduced from roughly 80,000 to about 55,000, as reported by the Times, News, and Post this morning. The police will have 21,474 fewer placards to distribute, a 33 percent reduction.

Placards have also been redesigned to prevent fraud and abuse, said Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler. The News reports:

New standardized placards are designed to eliminate the dizzying
patchwork of permits previously created by each agency that often
stumped ticket writers.

"They were being respected by the
people who were doing traffic enforcement because they looked legit,"
Skyler said. "If you have an old police one, you might as well have a Time magazine on the dashboard. It’s not going to be effective."

Mayor Bloomberg announced the placard reduction plan back in January, initially targeting a March 1st implementation date. But when an inventory revealed 142,000 placards in use — thousands more than anticipated — delays ensued. The percentage reduction announced yesterday exceeds the 20 percent goal the Mayor set in January.

A separate pool of 63,000 placards issued by the Department of Education is in line for a similar reduction by September. Expect obstruction from Randi Weingarten, or her successor, should the current boss of New York’s teacher’s union succeed in her campaign to head the American Federation of Teachers.

Graphic: New York Times

  • Alex

    I find it amazing that teachers, of all groups, should have the highest number of placards. They typically don’t work odd hours, don’t work weekends and are usually off for the summer.

    They also already have reserved parking at their schools; can we limit their placards to parking at their home school, or is that the case already?

  • Jeffrey Hymen

    Alex, not to defend the practice, but to add some information: First off, some schools are at some distance from public transportation. And, a teacher cannot park on the street (“No Parking School Days 4-7 except Board of Education”) without a placard. Obviously, parking in the school yard is a whole ‘nother (despicable) practice.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Right, teachers account for the most placards because they also account for the most public employees who live in the suburbs and work at dispersed locations in the city, rather than in the CBD.

    But the teachers (cops, firefighters, sanitation workers) could have an option if they wanted it. They could work with the city to create a dynamic carpooling system, in which they called in on their cell phones and linked up with others driving from the vicinity of their work to/from the vincinity of their home at the same time.

    Placards could be cut by 60 percent, and only made available to those willing to dial in for every trip and take 2/3 passengers for a fee equivalent to the transit fare. The riders could not only save on gas, but may be able to ditch a car, saving the cost of purchase and insurance.

    Problem — lots of the big savings could go to younger public employees. And the broader community would benefit from less traffic and air pollution. NOT FAIR.

  • Spud Spudly

    Keep in mind too that there are over 80,000 teachers with 63,000 placards (yet about 36,000 cops with almost 65,000 placards!).

    This is cool, but how about the issue of city-owned cars with official plates. Are any of these placard reductions from city-owned cars or are these only for private cars? Because city cars don’t need a placard anyway, they almost never get ticketed.

  • Alex

    I still don’t get why teachers get preferential treatment over other workers who work far from transportation or have bad commutes.

    Parking is a perk given to teachers a long time ago that is now expected as a rule. We need to change that mentality and if we have to bribe them with MetroCards for a time or other measures, then let’s do it.

    Does anyone know if teachers abuse their placards to the same extent as police, fire and bureaucrats?

  • JF

    Jeffrey, please show me a school that doesn’t have a bus line running near it. Sure, there are schools that aren’t near subways, but that’s not the same as being far from public transportation.

    I recently spoke to the local PTA about traffic calming. The parent coordinator (a DOE employee) asked me, “since you’re in contact with the DOT, could you ask them for more parking spaces for teachers?” I said that I thought all teachers should get free Metrocards. She said, “what for?” and seemed genuinely bewildered at the prospect. I said, “so they can take the subway to work” (the school is two blocks from a subway station). Oh, that wouldn’t work for her; she lives out on the Island.

    Come on. My neighborhood is as middle-class as you can get, perfect for teachers to live in. In fact, there’s a teacher from the school who lives in my building. I’m sure that there are enough qualified teachers within walking distance to staff the entire school.

    But no, apparently the rest of the teachers at this school are too important to walk or take the train, and too good to live in a neighborhood like this. They’re professionals, and professionals live on Long Island and drive to work! Never mind that by driving to work they’re endangering the very kids they’re coming to take care of.

    This whole attitude of entitlement from teachers towards parking really pisses me off.

  • Ace

    Why not limit the free parking to workplaces that are X distance from public transit?

    I pass nothing but teacher’s cars on the street in front of a school as I walk to the subway every morning.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (I said, “so they can take the subway to work” (the school is two blocks from a subway station). Oh, that wouldn’t work for her; she lives out on the Island.)

    The good news: teachers who work out on the Island can bike to work, since by state law NYC government jobs (or most of them) are available to those living in the suburbs, but the suburbs can limit such jobs in their communities to those living locally.

    Having people live so far away hurts in a number of ways. They have more difficulty getting to work in inclement weather. They are less likely to give that extra effort after school if they have a long ride home.

    And, after being lousy teachers for the first couple of years before climbing the learning curve, they are more likely to leave — to reduce their commute — leaving the city’s kids to absorb another green teacher. I’ve heard differential pay as a reason NYC public employees leave for suburban jobs. But none of the teachers or other public employees who live in my neighborhood have done so. None.

  • Jim

    The reason teachers get preference is that it’s hard to keep them from quitting. Other city agencies aren’t desperate for employees.

    For a lot of suburban (and some city-dwelling) teachers, driving is a way of life. For others, it’s either quicker or cheaper than a commuter train and then a subway.

  • Holy cow! That’s enough placards for anyone who has ever been a police officer in the city that still lives nearby, nevermind the ones that currently work for it. I assume this number includes a lot of non-active police officers and a fair number of administrative employees.

    As for the teachers, I have to say that I rarely see thess used anywhere other than in the school parking zone during school hours.

    But these should not be free perks – I would love if they made employees pay for the placards and use the money raised for giving the other folks free unlimited Metrocards.

  • Spud Spudly

    I don’t think the teachers have historically been big abusers of their parking passes.

  • A key abuse of placards by the teachers is parking in spaces designated “No Parking School Days.” Those space that are intended for drop-off of kids by school bus or otherwise. Schools will also provide spaces marked “DOE only” which are intended for teachers (the teachers fill up those as well).

    The result is that the kids are disembarking away from the curb, which is dangerous, and there’s tons of double parking, which causes great congestion.

  • Stacy

    According to the Times “only the Police Department and the Transportation Department will issue placards.” Isn’t this sort of like leaving the fox to mind the hen house? NYPD seems to have twice as many permits as they have officers. Maybe it would be better to leave this to some other agency, like DOT.

  • Tomm

    Placards for teachers should be eliminated, not reduced. Since it is important to retain teachers, that should be done with salary or perks other than parking spaces.

    If their free parking is not eliminated, it should be taxed. If teachers don’t have to pay for parking like any other commuter, that freebie should be considered income. IRS??

  • Curious

    Has anyone seen these new placards? Are they any different? Any bar-codes or any anti-counterfeit measures on them?

  • I’ve seen them. They’ve got a patch where it looks like there may be something implanted in them.

  • spike

    It is amazing to see this actually happening. It remains to be seen if they will ticket cars with the old (often fake) placards.

    The city struggles to keep the teachers they have particularly in the poorer parts of the city . The placards are one of the few really good cheap perks the city has for the teachers. They could pay the teachers more, but that would raise my taxes. I’m happy to see them with free parking. Unlike the cops they don’t seem to abuse them- probably because they are only good at times while they are working. The city should make an effort to promote car pooling to the schools. A good way to promote car pooling would be to toll all the bridges but provide a big discount for car poolers. The higher price of gas is going to provide a good incentive to car pool. (And no, there isn’t the subway and train capacity if everyone stopped driving into the city).

  • Fendergal

    On the corner near my apt building is a black car that regularly parks where it is illegal. I noticed not one but two placards on the dash this evening on my way home. I am going to take a closer look at these the next time I am passing. I am sorely tempted to leave a note on this car to stop it from blocking a no-parking zone (near a hydrant).

  • JF

    And no, there isn’t the subway and train capacity if everyone stopped driving into the city

    Yes, there is. Please stop spreading disinformation. Besides, most of the schools are outside the central business district, where there is significant excess transit capacity.

  • Ian Turner

    Spike,

    On the contrary, placards are not a “cheap perk”. The parking space represented by the placards is actually extremely valuable, as demonstrated by the importance placed on them by unions. If parking spaces were not occupied by placard-holders, they could be sold at a handsome price indeed. In addition, teachers’ driving has plenty of negative externalities, including noise, pollution, and congestion. To call all of this “cheap” is just wrong; just because the cost is not carried on the city’s books does not mean that it’s not very real and paid by every citizen of the city.

    As far as the idea that teachers don’t abuse their placards; it’s just not true. See e.g. here

  • bureaucrat

    I hate placard parking but I don’t think teachers should be the focus of your ire. Teachers (along with, to some extent, police and fire fighters) have much less control over their work location than many other careers. And if they transfer schools? By definition schools are geographically dispersed – let’s be careful to empathize a little in between insisting that everyone has an easy transit option.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The problem with the teachers is the same as the problem with the city.

    The majority of teachers care about their jobs, and like being teachers.

    And a large share of the teachers do not drive to work, and would probably love a Metrocard as part of their compensation.

    And a siginficant share of those who do drive would probably love to see the city develop a dynamic carpool system that would either allow them to earn money taking other people to work, or give up a car (having none for a single or just one for a family) by having someone else drive them from home to work for the equivalent of a transit fare.

    But who matters in the United Federation of Teachers?

    Those who are retired, are about to retire, like to pretend they are already retired, and commute from the suburbs by car. And the distribution of compensation AMONG teachers reflects that.

    Lots of teachers in my ‘hood. Some drive, but most do not. What do they get?

  • Larry Littlefield

    Speaking of teachers, I know a teacher who lives in Park Slope and works in Williamsburg, and a person in some kind of volunteer/intern program who lives in Windsor Terrace and works in East New York.

    Neither has a car. Both take transit. Both live at a distance which would allow them to ride a bicycle to work. Would the DOE even allow them to take their bikes into the classroom, and provide something to lock it to, if that’s what they wanted? They accomodate the car, don’t they?

    Well, that sounds like a collective bargaining issue. But providing the free metrocard and bike lockup wouldn’t benefit those driving in from Long Island, and wouldn’t enhance the pension. Therefore it would be “unfair” to use whatever resources the city has available for that purpose, because the suburban drivers would then get a lower share of the benefit.

    That’s the mentality. Those who already have more get an even greater advantage in good years (because it doesn’t cost younger people anything — it’s free) and deserve equality based on EQUAL CHANGE regardless of where you started otherwise.

  • Hilary

    Can someone tell us who controls the allocation and disbursement of placards for teachers? Is it the principal’s prerogative? The district’s? Does the number depend on the parking (or transit) situation at the site? Is it an entitlement that goes with particular positions, seniority, or residence? Is it actually contractual, and if so which one? The individual, the collective bargaining agreement, or some other? May we see the document?

  • “deserve equality based on EQUAL CHANGE regardless of where you started otherwise”

    Same as the Jersey component of congestion pricing. This is in fact the definition of stagnation, not equality, but people with existing privilege seem to buy into it heart and soul.

  • snooper

    When City Hall originally announced the permit cuts, there was also a special NYPD enforcement unit mentioned. So what gives.. it’s been awfully quiet about this enforcement unit.
    It also looks like DOT is issuing 2 new types of permits.
    And then there are the gov’t owned cars with “official” plates. They don’t need a permit to park illegally.

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