So Why Are Meter Rules Always "In Effect"? Some Answers.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - 08:30 AM

Snowplow on an Upper West Side street (Kate Hinds/WNYC)

In the latest installment (first installment) of our regular series (likely not regular) "It's Okay, We Don't Know Either," we investigate why parking meters are always in effect when Alternate Side Parking is suspended.

It's a snow day mantra, uttered by newscasters, printed in the papers, and tweeted by the DOT. Alternate side parking is suspended, but the meters remain "in effect."

But why? We first took our question to twitter, where just the right person joined the discussion - NY1 traffic reporter Jamie Shupak.

The idea, then, is that ASP suspension is more about making sure regular folks aren't stranding their cars trying to move on narrow residential streets, getting in the way of plows. On commercial streets, where there are meters, there may be more room for plows to maneuver. Commercial drivers are also less likely to get snowed in by keeping their car in one place, and they may have somewhere to park their car or truck at the end of the day.

And, of course, there's the obvious angle -- money. But it's not just that the city can continue to raise revenue by ticketing for parking meter violations, former NYC traffic commissioner "Gridlock" Sam Schwartz emails us that "it's because there's no need to hurt business... revenue is a small part of it." 

A DOT spokesperson tells us that the policy "ensures that these spaces are clear so that Department of Sanitation can plow snow from the curbside in commercial districts, helping businesses to resume after a storm."

So there you have it. Got a theory of your own? Post it in the comments or tweet @brianlehrer.


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Comments [11]

Jim Demers from NYC

A greater mystery, to me, is the "1-Hour Parking" that people routinely stretch to 4, 6, or 8 hours. "Feeding the meter" is not legal, yet enforcement is more rare than tickets for jaywalking.

Feb. 02 2014 03:54 AM
Jenny from NYC and CT


As a college prof and regular person who likes clarity, this trend of starting sentences with "so" drives me nuts. In a headline, no less!

It is not just very grammatically incorrect, annoying and confusing, but it encourages American lazy-talk, especially when perpetuated by the mass media.

Can at least a public radio station in the largest city in the US make an effort to be articulate?

Jan. 23 2014 10:25 AM
Edward Perlmutter from lower east side


Jan. 22 2014 09:37 PM
Patrick from Manhattan

Some residents commute by car and tend to use metered areas that are available at night. Pay attention to the forecast before parking at a spot where the meter doesn't need to be feed from say 7pm-8:30am, or you may be doing some serious shoveling.

Jan. 21 2014 11:24 PM
NMT from Brooklyn, NY

We now use little pieces of paper placed inside the car for proof of payment for parking. If the car windows are totally blocked by snow, how can the presence or absence of said piece of paper be determined??

Jan. 21 2014 09:07 PM
Anon from Snowstorm

T & B from Bklyn

*Implies*, not infers.

Jan. 21 2014 11:59 AM
Dan Hill from East Village, NYC

In addition to what's stated in your post:
From the NYC DOT Alt. Side Calendar
"Parking meter regulations are also suspended on major legal holidays. The major legal holidays are New Years Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. On all other holidays, only street cleaning rules are suspended, and other regulations remain in effect."

On the above mentioned days, the announcement is along the lines of "Alternate side parking is suspended and Sunday parking rules are in affect." In most but not all cases, this means that you don't have to "feed the meters."

Jan. 21 2014 11:08 AM

My understanding of why ASP is suspended is because the rules are meant for 'street cleaning' by broom trucks. On snow days, the broom trucks can't operate, because Sanitation deploys their employees for snow removal.

Jan. 21 2014 11:03 AM
Truth & Besuty from Brooklyn

"So Why Are Meter Rules Always "In Effect"? Some Answers."

1. Don't begin a sentence or interrogative with "so." It infers that it is a dependent clause and is just bad grammar. As journalists, you should know better (you DID study English grammar in school, right?).

2. The answer to the question: MONEY. NYC can guarantee that people who park at meters will have to pay while it cannot guarantee that people will park illegally.


Jan. 21 2014 11:01 AM
Alex from Brooklyn

My hometown of Erie, PA and many other cities that get lots of snow every year actually do the opposite and are MORE stringent about parking rules when it snows so that plows can actually come in and clear things out. I see no reason that meters should be suspended just because it snows. I get why ASP is suspended the day of and after a storm, but they are usually too generous about it and should lift the suspension sooner so they can plow.

Jan. 21 2014 11:01 AM
Scott from NYC

Can we consider the needs of store owners who are still open before the storm? If the meters are cancelled and the spots are filled long-term, then shoppers seeking last minute items will not have easy access to these stores. There will be no spots! Maybe it's that simple. And YES, the city wants the money...

Jan. 21 2014 10:59 AM

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