Finding a parking spot in some Queens neighborhoods is a tough enough task. But now drivers say they are battling testy Muni-Meters that cheat them out of precious minutes and reject their coins and credit cards.

“They are not efficient. They rip you off,” said Robert Holden of the Juniper Park Civic Association. “Everyone has a horror story.”
Last year, the city finished replacing old-fashioned parking meters with the new Muni-Meters. But in some Queens neighborhoods, the transition has been anything but smooth.

Holden and the Daily News walked along a stretch of Metropolitan Ave. in Middle Village recently and found more than half of the meters had the wrong time.

“You put your money in but the clock is slow,” said Holden, who discovered the problem during a recent shopping trip. “You don’t get the entire 15 minutes. We’re being cheated.”

One of the meters was a full seven minutes slow, while another was five minutes slow. For someone dropping a quarter in for a 15 minute stay, half the time is gone before they place the receipt onto their dashboard.
A city Transportation Department spokesman said more than 99% of the meters in the city are operational at any given time.

People who encounter broken meters should pay at the closest meter and call 311 to report the problem.

Elected officials and civic leaders around the borough say they have received a barrage of complaints.

“Broken, slow and they run out of paper so you can’t get a receipt,” said City Councilman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), whose district includes the busy Austin St. shopping area.

“There should be something you can do if they’re broken” said Koslowitz. “With meters, you could put a bag on top. With these, you would need a sack.”
Joseph Conley, chairman of Community Board 2 in western Queens, said he hears complaints from drivers who have trouble using their credit cards with the Muni-Meters.

Broken meters often send Astoria drivers on a sprint to find a machine that will spit out a receipt, said City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria).
“You basically have to be Usain Bolt to make it back to your car before the five minute grace period is over,” Vallone quipped, referring to the champion sprinter.

State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said he fired off a letter to the DOT to complain about Muni-Meters in Corona and Jackson Heights that will not accept coins, forcing drivers to use credit cards.
“It is unacceptable in communities where we have people who do not have bank accounts, much less credit cards,” Peralta said.

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