Really, it’s amazing, you never know when you leave your car, walk half a block to go and pay whether a meter will work, accept coins, have paper, reject the coins, eat your credit card, short your time. It’s a continuing entertainment and gamble, and I can’t remember how I lived without all this excitement.
Any driver who has ever used a Muni Meter will recognize themselves and understand my sarcasm. There is probably no new “technology” that is more prone to breakdown. If 50 percent of police cars, fire call boxes or garbage sweepers didn’t work, we’d all be rightfully up in arms.
Since Muni Messes - oh I’m sorry again, Muni Meters - were installed citywide, over two years already, they have gone to near the top of citizen complaints at 311. Noise and heat complaints are always on top, but DOT-related complaints have risen astronomically and are now in fifth place.
I’m willing to bet that besides parking ticket complaints most of the increase is due to malfunctioning Muni Meters. Having done informal surveys, I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t had issues with them.
Allow me to tell my all-too-common story. During Christmas season, I decided to stop by my church, Immaculate Conception, to see the beautiful Nativity and church decorations. I parked, walked six cars to nearest Muni Meter, tried to insert quarters, but the meter didn’t work. I cursed at machine, but what are you going to do?
I walked to the next block/meter, and this machine didn’t accept quarters. I cursed at the nonexistent repair people. So I crossed the street to the next meter, about a block and a half away from my car. That meter was “not in service” because that side of the street doesn’t start until 8:30 a.m. Dumb law but I don’t care, I would gladly pay. I cursed at the legislators and city in general.
Now I can’t even see my car, but I do see a traffic agent driving past me. Now I'm thinking I’m going to get a ticket for my troubles, knowing that even if I tell them my story about the broken meters I’ll just get some nonsensical answer and risk another agent giving me a ticket while explaining to the first one.
I finally find a meter that accepts quarters, put in $2 just to be safe, and no paper comes out but the screen reads “transaction finished.” Au contraire my mechanized friend; the aggravation is just growing.
Great technology, City of New York. I'm glad we gave millions to some private agency for this privilege .
What really got my goat was watching a woman with two toddlers on one of the coldest, iciest days of the year. She bundled them up and walked from meter to meter, slipping on ice, crossing streets, repeatedly trying to pay with no success.
Why should that mother - or for that matter anyone - be put in that situation. Shouldn’t the city or our citizens hold the agency or company responsible?
So, on behalf of the businesses that are losing money, the citizens that are inconvenienced, the kids that are endangered, we at CB1 are going to hold hearings on this matter to put the responsible agency’s feet to the fire so that they will either remedy these situations or go back to the drawing board. No one should have to put up with this.
Antonio Meloni is chairman of the Public Safety Committee for Queens Community Board 1.