PARKING TICKETS ARE BIG BUSINESS FOR THE CITY
Summer is around the corner and with the joys of the warm weather comes the nightmare of construction and traffic. Not only does it take longer to get most anywhere in the city, it is often really tough to find anywhere to park once you get there. With the addition of bike paths and streets closures for multiple summer festivals, finding a parking space can feel like winning the lottery.
With the increase in congestion in recent years, it makes sense that there is a corresponding increase in parking violations. But I was shocked to learn that the “green onions,” or municipal parking agents, have issued 56 per cent more tickets in the last four years, adding a total of $84.3 million to the coffers of the city. If we add the revenues generated by police officers, total revenues from parking violations were $159 million in 2012, an increase of $22.5 million over 2011.
For those who get a ticket, what are the odds they will take the time to contest it? To go to the municipal courthouse can take hours and it may not be worth your while to take time off work to contest a $40 parking ticket.
While you can request that your case be held in your borough, which offers night court, most people do not know this.
Parking is big business. In 1977, there were about 20 parking agents. Today, in the summer months, they number more than 200.
In the winter, the number reaches 900, including the towing operators who work during snow-removal operations.
In 2007, the city of Montreal invested $7.3 million in high-tech portable computers and e-ticketing software to issue traffic and parking citations. While less time writing tickets allows police officers more time to ensure public safety, it also allows more time to write more tickets.
The city is also making it easier to collect parking revenues. P$ Mobile Service allows you to pay or renew your parking spot using your computer or smartphone.
Stationnement de Montréal, which manages municipal parking, has recorded more than half a million transactions since the service was launched last summer.
The new Pay and Go stations, which have replaced traditional parking meters, do not allow time to be accumulated. The pay station treats each transaction as if it were dealing with a new customer. This allows increased revenue for each parking spot as no one paying for a spot can benefit from any time remaining.
While I am all for public transit, there are times you still need a car. With gas prices and the cost of parking rising, it would be nice for tired motorists to know exactly where the additional revenues in parking are going. It might help us look at those green onions a little differently.