Nov. 11, 2010

Parking update: Fewer tickets, greener patrols

by Diana Pounds

One-day parking permits are popular. Parking tickets dropped by 15 percent last year. Parking staff are walking more and driving less.

These were among the quick facts Mark Miller shared with the Professional and Scientific Council during its Nov. 4 meeting. Miller, who manages the parking division in the department of public safety, briefed the council as part of a routine report.

Here are highlights of his report:

  • The parking division is self-supporting, generating around $3.3 million annually from parking permits, fines, events parking and other activities.
  • Parking's expenses include snow removal ($330,000 was spent last year clearing parking lots). Lot maintenance included spending $150,000 on crack filling, patch work, seal coating and line painting. Parking also helps fund CyRide's free Orange route and reduced fares for faculty and staff at a cost of around $271,000 per year.
  • The new one-day "scratch" permits for faculty, staff and retirees who occasionally drive to campus have proven popular, with 1,100 tickets sold since July 1. Permits are $2 each.
  • Parking staff are walking and biking more. They also are doubling up in vehicles to drive partway, and then split up on foot to patrol. As a result, the parking division has been able to eliminate one vehicle and reduce mileage by 10,000 miles in the first four months of the current fiscal year.
  • A new initiative that started about a week ago is a pre-pay Smart Card that frees drivers from carrying around parking change. Cards can be purchased for $5. Cardholders can put cash (up to $300) onto the cards, then swipe them at pre-pay stalls in lots 21 (west of the Armory) and 100 (west of the Lied Center) and the east parking deck.
  • Last year, parking staff wrote around 68,000 tickets, down from around 80,000 the previous year.
  • For parking citations that cost $30 or more, parking staff document the infraction by taking a photo at the time of ticketing.
  • Last year, parking staff provided 3,250 safety escorts and responded to 1,150 calls for the Help Van.
  • Just under 4,000 citations were appealed last year to the Traffic Appeals Board, which consists of seven independent (non-DPS) employee representatives for faculty and staff appeals, and a student magistrate for student appeals. About half of the appeals were granted for both groups. Parking officials hope to offer an online appeal option sometime in the near future.
  • For the past two years, faculty and staff and returning students have been able to buy parking permits online rather than via mail. The online process has saved $35,000 annually due to reduced labor costs.