After a long day of classes or work, no one likes to find a parking ticket on the windshield of their car, yet thousands of students, staff members and visitors do each year.
People who parked their cars on campus paid CU Boulder about $7.5 million in fees and fines, and they amassed more than 37,000 parking tickets during fiscal year 2011.
That’s an average of more than 100 tickets a day.
From July 2010 to June 2011, about one-third of all tickets were written for Failure-to-Display-Receipt. This number is up almost 5 percent from the previous year, which was up nearly 6 percent from the year before, according to university records.
The trend has continued into fiscal year 2012. From July 2011 through February, CU wrote more than 14,000 tickets for Failure-to-Display-Receipt. This is a jump of about 13 percent over all of last year, with four months yet to be tallied.
The increase in Failure-to-Display tickets is the result of a gradual transition from meters to pay stations, Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) Assistant Director Brian Chamberlin said. Field Operations Manager Steven Charter elaborated on the change.
“Using the pay stations over meters gives us a greater technological advantage,” Charter said. “With the pay stations, you can use debit cards and credit cards. You can call ahead and pay by phone, which is extremely convenient if you’re running late and you don’t want to stop and pay for a station. You can even extend time. They’re very easy to use and very fast.”
However, not everyone knows about these features, including Adrienne Lettow, a 20-year-old sophomore communications major, who has collected almost $2,000 in tickets at CU.
“I had no idea about the fact that we could call ahead,” Lettow said. “That would be extremely helpful to me.”
Statistics correspond to the switch from meters to pay stations. Citations from Expired Meter violations have been cut almost in half in recent years, dropping from nearly 16,000 in fiscal year 2008 to just over 9,000 in fiscal year 2011.
While the switch from meters to kiosks has occurred over the past few years, the university also switched from payment service provider Verrus to Park Mobile on April 1, said Jena Cafiero, PTS director of communications.
Park Mobile benefits parkers because it offers the ability to download a smart phone application to pay for, extend and end a parking session, Cafiero said.
Where the money comes from
Of the $7.5 million in revenue during fiscal year 2011, only about 11 percent came from parking citations. The largest amount, at $2.55 million, came from permit sales to faculty and students and the additional revenue is generated from paid parking at meters, pay stations, autoparks or events.
None of that revenue came from tax dollars or tuition. PTS is self-sustaining, Cafiero said.
“We generate revenues through permits and visitor pricing, not necessarily through enforcement,” PTS Director Melissa Yates said. “Those revenues go back into the system to keep us viable.”
More than a third of that revenue is used to pay the 206 full-time and part-time PTS employees, and more than a fourth of it contributes to repaying bond debt.
The bonds were loans used to construct the Euclid Autopark, the Regent Autopark, the PTS building and the new C4C parking structure, said PTS accountant Ann Sondergard.
Because permit sales make up more than 34 percent of revenue, enforcement officers pay close attention to lots designated for permit use.
“When we have violations where a person doesn’t have a valid permit, they’re taking up a space from someone who pays for a space,” Charter said. “We want to make sure that our customers who do pay for parking have a chance to park there.”
Last year, CU issued almost 9,000 citations to drivers who parked without a permit.
Charter, however, does not see violation enforcement as PTS’s only goal.
“We don’t only enforce; education is a big part of it, too,” Charter said. “If we can talk to someone and give them options on what they can do, then that’s one less person who has to receive a citation.”
Lettow, with more than 60 tickets, doesn’t see it the same way.
“I feel like they are out to get me or something,” Lettow said, admitting that the technological changes could help her. “I would totally use the app to add on time. I feel like that would greatly reduce the number of tickets I receive.”
Contact CUI Visual Content Editor Robert R. Denton at firstname.lastname@example.org.