New muni-meter law allows pre-payment

July 1, 2015 Renee Saff
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Motorists will no longer have to sit in their cars, waiting for meters to begin working in New York City, as the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) began implementing part of local Councilmember David Greenfield’s muni-meter legislation in June, upgrading muni-meters citywide to accept pre-payment one hour before meter regulations go into effect.

“It’s a good change because it will prevent people from spending more money than they’re supposed to,” said Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10. “I’m supportive of working on meter changes that help and assist those who want to publicly park and park more efficiently.”

The DOT has already successfully upgraded muni-meters in Borough Park, Park Slope, Downtown Brooklyn, East New York, Coney Island, the Brooklyn College area, Flatbush, Brooklyn Heights, Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant. Muni-meters in all five boroughs will be upgraded by mid-July, according to the DOT.

“This is a common-sense law: it saves drivers both time and money,” Greenfield said. “Now, drivers can feed the meters before they go into work or appointments and avoid a parking ticket for no reason.”

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Local law 49 of 2013 –of which Greenfield was a prime sponsor — was passed by the City Council on June 13, 2013 and gave the city two years from July 1, 2013 to reprogram all of the city’s muni-meters. The expiration date on Greenfield’s law is July 1, 2015..

With the new law in effect, if meter regulations begin at 9 a.m., people can begin to pay the muni-meter at 8 a.m., but only pay for parking from 9 a.m.

“The new law is helpful but definitely does not alleviate all the annoyances that come with the muni-meter,” said Allison Tawil, a Brooklyn motorist.

Muni-meters, which were introduced to the city in 2009 after a brief trial period in 1999, were designed to reduce the number of individual meter devices required and to increase the number of parking spots available by eliminating spot limitations from meters or designated striping that sections spots off. However, with those few advantages came an onslaught of complaints from the city’s residents.

“Muni-meters really inconvenience everyone,” Tawil said. “Instead of being able to step out of my car and pay the meter, I need to get out of my car, lock the doors, take out my money, walk to the muni-meter, wait on the line, pay, walk back to my car and unlock it to put the slip in, and make sure that it was not flipped over by the wind. When I leave my car the second time, possibly five minutes after I first walked out of my car, I am always extremely annoyed.”

Motorists also complain about the lack of muni-meters, the far distances people need to walk to find the closest meter, the high number of muni-meters that reject credit and debit cards, the danger of trekking across unshoveled, icy paths to purchase a ticket in the wintertime and the unfairness of not being able to add time to an original receipt.

“A big drawback is when you realize you need to add time to the meter but have to wait for the full allotted time you paid for already before adding more time and money,” said Leah Harari, a Brooklyn motorist.

While it doesn’t address those issues, Greenfield’s law made two other improvements to the city’s muni-meters. Muni-meters will be forced to shut off and not accept payment during times when motorists are not required to pay for parking, and muni-meters will no longer accept payments when they run out of paper to print the tickets.

“These two additional improvements will guarantee New Yorkers don’t get ripped off when using muni-meters,” Greenfield said. “After all, if you lose a dollar worth of quarters in the meter because it ran out of paper, it’s almost impossible to get the city to give you your money back.”

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