The merchants had concluded that the experiment, which was meant to provide more parking by installing half-hour meters in the place of some two-hour meters, has failed. They urged Parking Authority officials return to the longer-term parking meters.
The meters, which are painted silver instead of black, were installed on side streets and at corners connecting to Broadway.
But the new meters caused significant protest among some residents, who said they parked and put their money in, only to find out they would have only 30 minutes with which to conduct their business.
"While the Parking Authority says some merchants are in favor of these meters," said Mel Stock of Barney Stock, a women's apparel store. "Most of us are not. Even people going into a bank to do business often need more than a half hour to get their business done. This means they have to move their car after they have already paid for the meter, just to have enough time to go to the bank."
In response to the public outcry, the Parking Authority moved last month to change most of the meters that had been installed on side streets to long-term meters. But corner slots along Broadway would still be maintained as short-term meters in order to satisfy the need for people who might not find parking if all the meters were two-hour duration.
Parking Authority Executive Director Carl Ciupinski said he wished to keep some meters near the corners so that people could park for a shorter time, allowing customers of paper stores, coffee shops and other businesses to pause briefly before moving on. The half-hour meters would keep people from parking in those spaces for long durations, so that people can come and go, he said.
He said local banks and other businesses approved of having some short-term meters to keep parking spaces open.
Mayor Doria, after getting significant number of complaints, has come out on the side opposing the meters, saying the Parking Authority - which is an autonomous body - should remove all the meters.
The conflict tends to pit some merchants against others.
Stock, for instance, does business in an area which is adequately supplied with metered parking lots, so that the short-term meters are not necessary for providing parking. But other merchants - especially in the parking-starved uptown area - want to provide some break for patrons who might want to rush in for take-out meals or some other service that does not require the full two hours.
Town Center Management Corporation surveyed business owners about the short-term meters, but also set up a public comment on the city's web site. The response from both sources has been very critical of the meters. Stock admitted that the board of directors for the Bayonne Town Center Management Corp. had pressed to get the meters installed, but that many merchants in Town Center feel the cure has been worse than the disease, and want the meters converted back to the two-hour format.
Stock said he and other merchants took a survey of customer feelings, obtaining more than 375 signatures opposing the short-term meters. He also said the short-term meters are offending customers and chasing people out of the shopping district.
"Many people haven't been educated about the new meters," Stock said. "So when they park, they put in one quarter, then put in the second quarter before they realize that the meter won't take more than one."
Even if people are willing and able to come back to their car every half hour to feed the meter, Stock feared the Parking Authority may ticket the cars anyway for parking there for more than one half hour at a time. He also pointed to the unfairness of people paying the same quarter for a half hour as they would for two hours.
"While I don't want any short-term meters, I think the Parking Authority should charge less if they have them," Stock said.
Some may be OK
Some merchants in the parking-flush portions of the city said they did not object to having meters installed in those parts of town where parking is short.
"But why do we need them down here when we have plenty of parking?" Stock asked.
The new meters come after the Parking Authority increased fines for meter violations. In January, motorists who fail to pay their meters will pay $18 per violation, as opposed to the $13 they would have paid prior to the change.
While $3 of the increase will go to programs set up by the state, $2 will go to the coffers of the Parking Authority for the refurbishing of its 11 public parking lots. The Parking Authority writes about 40,000 tickets for meter violations citywide per year.
"These meters are driving people crazy," Stock said. "I saw one woman park in one, get out and put in her money. She didn't realize that it was only for 30 minutes, and she was supposed to go into the gym. She wasn't going to be back down in time to pay the meter. So she had to move the car - after she had already paid the meter. This is crazy."