Where else in America do you find signs "Don't even THINK of parking here!" or "No Parking, No Standing, No Stopping, No Kidding!" New York's roads are congested, and while many private and public parking garages offer space at a premium, on-street parking is available. The trick (after finding the space) is negotiating the complex parking regulations.
If you are driving to Manhattan for the first time, be aware of toll bridges and tunnels as well as road construction. If you're going to commute, consider getting an E-Z Pass electronic toll tag that will speed you through the tollbooths without stopping. Keep in mind: turning right on red is illegal everywhere in New York City except where signs specifically allow it.
Tired of searching for quarters or getting change? New York City has introduced a new muni-meter parking card that you can load up in advance and then use as a debit card at many meters.
Free alternate-side street parking in Manhattan can be a bit of a challenge at first, but if you park on a block that is not too busy, you can get the hang of it in a few weeks. Most Manhattan blocks with alternate-side parking below 125 Street are cleaned twice weekly. Carefully note the signs where you park your car. For example, a sign may indicate no parking from 9AM - 10:30AM Mon & Thurs. This means you must move your car no later than 9AM on those two days. What to do? Some clever folks drive over to an avenue and park at a meter for an hour, then return once the street-sweeping truck has come through. Or you can usually wait in your car on the other side of the street (i.e. double-park) until the street-sweeping truck comes through, then put your car back in the same or nearby spot. But you must stay in your vehicle until the end of the no parking period (i.e. 10:30AM) or you might get a ticket. Do note: some police officers and traffic agents are very fussy about the regulations, and absolutely will issue you a ticket if you arrive or leave five minutes late, so do not try to cut corners. Violations cost up to $65 per incident. Also note: some blocks have very fussy residents who are extremely possessive of 'their' parking spots. If you are parking in a certain area for the first time, it's best to have a friendly conversation with the other car parkers just to make note of the general policies (official and unofficial) in the area.
What do you do if you get a ticket? Generally, your first instinct is to rip it up! But even if your car has license plates from another state, that won't make the fine go away. A collection agency is guaranteed to track you down. So simplify your life and pay your parking ticket online! Just click HERE. And do note: even in a rental car with out-of-state license plates, you will have to pay for that ticket. Rental car agencies will absolutely charge your credit card a huge fee to process and pay for the ticket if you do not!
Common Parking Questions and our Answers
Q: How do I pay a parking ticket? How do I appeal a parking ticket that I think was wrongly issued?
A: Parking tickets are adjudicated by the Parking Violations Operations unit of the Department of Finance. Read the instructions on the back of the ticket for information on how to pay or on how to file an appeal, by mail, online, or by phone. You can call the Parking Violations Helpline at 718/422-7800 (TTY 718/802-3555).
Q: What do I do if my car has been towed?
A: Tow pounds are operated by the Police Department. Call 311 in the city or (212) TOW-AWAY (869-2929) or click HERE for more information.
Q: I received a ticket at a broken parking meter. How can I get the ticket dismissed and report the meter for repair?
A: Call DOT’s Parking Meter Maintenance automated, 24-hour number at 800/203-3770. The field inspectors will make any necessary repairs, and the information will be entered into the city's computerized system. Follow the instructions on the back of the summons for filing an appeal with the Department of Finance Parking Violations Operations (PVO) unit, which adjudicates summonses. The PVO will check their computer system to verify whether the parking meter was broken.
Q: Can I park at a broken meter or at a space where the meter is missing?
A: If a meter is broken, you can park for the maximum period posted on the nearest sign. Usually the newer meters will blink the word FAIL when broken. However, if there are other parking meters nearby you might choose to park there to avoid any potential hassles. If the meter is missing, you can park for the maximum amount of time posted on the signs. If the block's muni-meter is out of service, you should seek out another nearby muni-meter, for example across the street.
Q: If you do not have coins for the parking meter, I heard you can just put a paper bag over a meter and write "broken" on it to avoid getting a ticket. Is this true?
A: Ha ha! No. Parking meters are computer-calibrated and the system can verify whether the parking meter was indeed broken.
Q: How do I apply for a long-term parking permit at a municipal garage or parking lot?
A: Call DOT’s Parking Permits office at 718/786-6621 for information.
Q: Any other strategies, like how to park for free?
A: Visit our New York on a Budget Guide page to Driving and Parking for strategies and tips about how to find off-street free parking and navigate alternate-side parking rules and regulations.
Q: What about a comprehensive listing of garages and parking lots?
A: You can get the ultimate guide to where to park by Margot Toth, NYC Complete Guide to Parking Garages at reputable bookstores all over the tri-state area as well as at Amazon.com and directly from Park-It Guides.
Q: Are there downloadable maps of parking facilities?
A: Yes, and you'll find that link just below.