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Justin Fox

Free Parking Is Expensive

It's terrible public policy.
Try finding a spot.

Try finding a spot.

Photographer: Craig Warga/Bloomberg

In “Tepper Isn’t Going Out,” Calvin Trillin’s novel of parking in New York City, Murray Tepper pays for a space in a garage near his apartment on the Upper West Side and rides the subway to work. But he can’t resist venturing out on evenings and weekends to take advantage of the amazing parking bargains that New York’s streets offer. Then he just sits there in his Chevy Malibu and reads the New York Post before taking the car back to the garage.

Really, who can blame him? Metered parking in New York has gotten more expensive since Trillin’s book was released in 2001, but it still maxes out at $3.50 an hour  in Manhattan, much cheaper than a lot or garage. Meanwhile, the vast majority of the city’s streets don’t have meters, and New York doesn’t restrict parking to residents. Anyone from anywhere can drive up next to some of the world's most expensive real estate and park for free until the next street cleaning. If they can find a space, that is -- and Murray Tepper happens to be especially good at that.