How does one know when they’ve made it in Connecticut? Is it when their net worth is north of $5 billion? Is it when news of their impending arrival downtown causes workers to roll out the fleece carpet? Is it when the Radio City Christmas Spectacular becomes known as the poor man’s version of the holiday light display on their front lawn? Is it when they can finger a horse and no one says anything? None of the above, peasants. One knows they’ve made it in Connecticut when they can board the Metro North train without having to walk 12 miles to the platform in the morning and the same amount back after getting bombed on the way home at night.
In the Metro-North parking lots along Connecticut’s Gold Coast, the haves and the have-nots aren’t defined by their clothes, car or even their net worth. Here, it’s about whether they have a flimsy green piece of paper visible on their dashboards. A public parking pass in this and other towns along the Long Island Sound has become a precious asset. The waiting list for a Fairfield Parking Authority permit has 4,200 people and stretches past six years. In another town, Rowayton, the annual permit sale is an epic frenzy similar to that surrounding the release of a new iPhone, with residents camping out overnight to ensure they get a $325 pass.
Think it’s no big D? Think again. Most people would sell their first born into White slavery for one of these elusive bad boys.
The privileged few often keep permits in the family, like aristocrats hoarding wealth. “It’s like season tickets to the Giants—even when you’re dead they get passed down to your children,” said Jim Cameron, head of the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council, a riders’ advocacy group that has monitored the state’s parking shortage for more than a decade.
According to the Journal, in 2009, then-Governor Jodi Rell commissioned the “Commuter Rail Parking Task Force,” run by James Redeker, which dissolved later that year after it “went nowhere. It was like the war at Vietnam—they declared victory and retreated without accomplishing anything.” And much like ‘Nam, when it comes to parking lot warfare, there are no rules, with people squatting on their spots (“John Eck, a former television executive from Fairfield, kept his permit after he left his job last spring—’just in case’ he needed to start commuting again”), scalping them to the desperate (“someone last week advertised renting his or her parking spot for $1,500 a year on the classifieds website Craigslist”), and vowing that anyone who wants theirs will have to pry it from their cold, dead hands (“You hear horror stories of people missing the renewal deadline and losing the permit in other towns,” Eck said. “I wouldn’t give it up for anything”).
Despite the fact that 1,400 new spots will be added next month, that means nothing for the thousands of residents/commuters whose options will still be to hoof or slum it (“Dominic Depiano…rushes every morning at 6:30 a.m. to a nearby Knights of Columbus, where he can get a spot for a $4 donation”). For those who aren’t yet ready to troll the parking lot at 7AM, sidling up to permit-holders and offering to give them a “ride- if you know what I mean” for every day they grant you use of their pass, some other options include:
– Parking in the sparsely populated UBS lot and catching a ride with one of the employees trying to supplement this year’s income with pedicab driving
– Buying a Zamboni on eBay and parking it any damn place you please (in a space that’s spoken for, double parked, on the platform) with the assurance that most people will see it and assume it belongs to you know who and not dare say shit.
– Giving the finger to the whole system: park your car/ass at KFC on West Main, buy a dozen Bacon Bowls, eating them at your leisure and calling it a day. You answer to no one.
Where Spots Are Hot [WSJ]