The complaints about Muni-Meters, many of which were installed across Queens at the end of last year, continue to trickle into the Queens Chronicle office. Some come via letters to the editor, including one this week, and some via conversation —since the one directly in front of the newspaper’s office hasn’t worked since the week it was installed.
For the first couple months it didn’t work at all, as indicated by a blinking red light greeting drivers. Then two weeks ago a worker opened it up and got it to accept credit and debit cards. But it still will not take coins, to the chagrin of many drivers.
Making matters worse for them, the next nearest Muni-Meter — located at the other end of the block where the Chronicle is based, on the east side of Woodhaven Boulevard between 62nd Road and 62nd Drive in Rego Park — doesn’t take cash either, and hasn’t since it was put in.
That forces drivers to walk across the 10 lanes of Woodhaven, which was recently named the deadliest street for pedestrians in all of Queens, move their cars to the residential streets that run into it or risk a ticket. They choose all three on a regular basis.
Some also engage in debate with traffic agents, as the above patron of Barosa restaurant, which is next door to the Chronicle, did on Monday. He asked if he’s really supposed to go all the way across the street to pay the meter, and was told he is.
“There’s nothing I can do,” the officer said.
Letter writer Albert Baldeo of Ozone Park said he knows of people facing even worse trouble due to the meters in his area.
“A few patrons have lost their credit cards in these meters,” Baldeo said [page 8]. “Vital personal and financial information can be compromised as a result.”
Two spokespersons for the city Department of Transportation did not respond to an email seeking comment on drivers’ concerns and clarification as to whether there is any limit on how far people can be forced to walk to find a working Muni-Meter. A previous Chronicle letter writer expressed concern over senior citizens having to walk too far to pay a meter.
Elected officials in Queens are not necessarily hearing complaints about the meters, however. City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) said he is not aware of any, and a spokesman for Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said the same. Both are members of the Transportation Committee. The office of the other Queens member, Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing), did not answer a query by press time.