Byford Tells MTA Workers the Obvious: Ride Transit — And Don’t Park Illegally!

"Placing your vest on the dashboard does not exempt you from parking regulations," Byford wrote in a March 26 letter to NYC Transit staff.

MTA New York City Transit employees are notorious for using agency vests to evade parking fees and penalties. Photos: David Meyer
MTA New York City Transit employees are notorious for using agency vests to evade parking fees and penalties. Photos: David Meyer

MTA New York City Transit President Andy Byford has a simple message for his agency’s 50,000 employees: Follow the freakin’ law.

In a March 26 letter obtained by Jalopnik reporter Aaron Gordon, Byford urged Transit employees to get around by subway and bus — and took it once step further by admonishing them for using their civil servant status to park dangerously and illegally.

“If you do drive, please don’t park on a sidewalk in a bus lane, in an illegal spot, or at a metered spot without paying, ” Byford wrote. “Placing your vest on the dashboard does not exempt you from parking regulations. Instead, it will tell your fellow New Yorkers that Transit employees think we are above the law.”

Byford’s mention of “vests” references the practice of using official government apparel to evade parking fees — one form of the rampant parking placard abuse plaguing all corners of the city.

Particularly near municipal buildings and courthouses, government employees abuse their parking placard privileges to park illegally and dangerously — often in front of fire hydrants and crosswalk, and in bus lanes and bike lanes.

“When Transit employees park their cars in a bus lane, that’s what my fellow football (‘soccer’) fans called an own goal — when we get in the way of our own success,” Byford wrote.

Because of the widespread proliferation of parking placards — there are at least 150,000 in circulation — government workers are more likely than their fellow New Yorkers to commute by car, even though their overall car ownership rates are lower than average.

Reducing the number of parking placards and cracking down on their abuse was one of the transit-improving recommendations of last year’s MTA Sustainability Advisory Working Group, as noted in Byford’s letter.

In February, Mayor de Blasio announced plans to modernize placard technology to make them harder to fabricate — and hopefully eliminating the use of vests in their place.

But Hizzoner’s plans stopped short of reducing the number of placards in circulation and did not address placards issued by federal or state agencies. He also promised to build or lease more legal parking spaces for cops and firefighters — an expensive proposition that will also increase the number of cars on the road.

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