Benjamin Sann was a 16-year-old sophomore at Horace Mann when he dreamed up the idea for a Website that compares parking rates in Manhattan. Inspired by the Seinfeld episode where George refuses to pay for a garage, Sann dedicated four months of his life to pedaling around Manhattan on his three-speed Dahon fold-up bicycle, then built his Website with a team of freelance coders. Since nycgarages.com launched last spring, the site has clocked almost 600,000 page views, opening the eyes of the world to the astonishing price irregularities of Manhattan parking. Enter where and when you want to park, and it spits out reams of figures. In the theater district, you’ll learn, six hours can be $11 or $50; a monthly spot in Tribeca runs from $326 all the way to $793. Soon, the service will work on mobile browsers, where it will be of greatest use, though not to Sann, who is now a college freshman but still doesn’t drive. “I’m going to be taking driver’s ed this summer,” he says.
SECRETS OF A PARKING GURU
AT A GARAGE
1) If you pay attention to specials, you can park a whole day in Manhattan for as little as $6. Garages modify, remove, or add specials to drive additional business and compete with neighboring garages. Nycgarages.com will modifying our Website next month to add support for free reservations and rate guarantees. The modifications will clearly indicate special rates.
2) Many garages and lots offer discounted monthly rates that are not posted on their signs. If you are willing to park “days only” and particularly “nights only,” you can often save close to 50 percent off the full-time rate.
3) Look for garages that don’t have elevator lifts, or you’ll need to factor in serious wait time to retrieve your car.
4) Be careful when you’re staying overnight; a lot of garages will have an early-morning cutoff for “overnight,” then charge you for an extra day if you’re not out by 5 a.m.
ON THE STREET
1) Learn the traffic-enforcement culture for your area. For example, traffic cops on the Upper East Site don’t tolerate double parking during street-cleaning times, while it is perfectly acceptable in many sections of the Upper West Side.
2) The best time to find a spot is when everyone is leaving Manhattan: between 4 and 5:30 p.m.
3) Fold in the outside mirror, and try to park closer in to the curb than the car parked behind or in front of you, so a passing vehicle will sideswipe that car and not yours.
4) Always call 311 before moving your car just to make sure that parking hasn’t been suspended for the following day.