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Starting Next Month, DOT Will Adjust Citywide Parking Meter Rates for the First Time Since 2011

1:24 PM EDT on August 8, 2018

The new meter rates will vary from $1.25 per hour on neighborhood commercial streets outside Manhattan to $7.50 per hour in Midtown (after the first hour). The vast majority of on-street spaces will remain free. Map: NYC DOT

For the first time under Mayor de Blasio, NYC DOT plans to increase parking meter rates citywide.

Starting next month, DOT will update on-street parking meter rates throughout the city for the first time in seven years. While it's not the parking plan of Donald Shoup's dreams, it's an improvement over the status quo. The very low price of metered parking will be going up citywide, with bigger rate increases for busy commercial districts.

Cheap metered parking on commercial streets is a problem because it prevents spaces from turning over, causing drivers to cruise for spots or double-park. Currently, metered parking in most areas outside of Manhattan below 96th Street goes for just $1 per hour. This makes neighborhood retail districts hotbeds of traffic dysfunction, slowing down buses and making biking and walking more stressful.

The new system consists of six tiers of hourly parking prices, ranging from $1.25 in some neighborhood shopping districts to $7.50 for drivers who park longer than an hour in Manhattan's most crowded commercial areas. A map of the new parking prices is on the DOT website, though it doesn't differentiate between metered spaces and street parking that remains completely free (which is the vast majority of it).

The last time citywide parking rates increased was 2011, when the typical price outside of Manhattan rose from 75 cents per hour to $1.

In Brooklyn, standard hourly meter rates will increase to $1.25. In Manhattan between the north side of 96th Street and the south side of 110th Street, it'll cost $2.50 an hour to park. Below 96th Street, where most meters currently charge $3.50 an hour, DOT will increase the time limit on parking from one to two hours while raising rates. The first hour will cost $4, the second hour $6.75.

High-demand areas in Midtown and Lower Manhattan will see slightly higher rates -- $4.50 for the first hour, $7.50 for the second. The city will also designate "outerborough business districts" -- in Downtown Brooklyn, Flushing, Jamaica, and 125th Street in Manhattan -- where parking is $2 per hour, as well as $1.50-an-hour "neighborhood retail districts" throughout the city.

PARK Smart, the DOT program that attempted to adjust meter prices based on demand, will be discontinued in Greenwich Village, Park Slope, and downtown Brooklyn, which will be absorbed into the new zones. A version of the program that increases rates after the first hour will continue in Jackson Heights.

Manhattan 96th St to 110th St$1.00$2.50M3
Manhattan 96th St and below$3.501st hour: $4, 2nd hour: $6.75M2
Midtown Core/Lower Manhattan$3.501st hour: $4.5, 2nd hour: $7.5M1
Outerborough Business Districts$1.00$2.001
Neighborhood Retail Districts$1.00$1.502
All other metered locations$1.00$1.253

The new prices will go into effect in Brooklyn on September 4, followed by Manhattan on October 1, Queens on November 1, and the Bronx and Staten Island on December 3.

It's unclear whether DOT will also be metering curb space that is currently free. DOT said more information will be available later this week.

These meter rate increases may or may not be large enough to make a noticeable dent in traffic, but they signify a more sophisticated approach to parking prices. It's the first time DOT has set parking prices citywide in a way that responds to different conditions in commercial areas, according to parking policy expert Rachel Weinberger.

"There are important distinctions [between] the neighborhoods, and I think DOT is trying to find a way to acknowledge that," Weinberger said.

While these are pretty modest changes to the price of street parking -- especially in outer borough neighborhoods -- there's a long New York City political tradition of grandstanding about any adjustment to meter rates. Complaining on Twitter earlier this week, Republican State Senator Marty Golden called the 50-cent and 25-cent increases coming to parts of his district "a slap in the face."

SD22 parking meter changes 2018 small
In the blue zones, meter rates will rise to $1.50 an hour. In the green zones, $1.25 per hour.

Golden may not care about all the ways cheap parking harms his constituents, but it's a good sign that DOT is finally taking action on parking meter prices under Mayor de Blasio.

"Politically, it's enormous," Weinberger said. "It's a huge first step."

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