Reimagining Enforcement: Promoting Compliance over Writing Citations

The demand for street, sidewalk and curb space has exploded in recent years because of the proliferation of scooters, delivery services like Amazon, bikes and ride share companies, as well as private vehicles and taxis. This increased demand for street and sidewalk real estate has created chaos at city curbs that exceeds the parameters of traditionally siloed and paper-based enforcement systems to navigate. Yet, when it comes time for a city to procure for a digital parking enforcement solution that can manage the chaos, little to no changes have been made in the RFP process to keep up with the pace of technology changes. If city leaders reimagine their traditional parking operation and the technology supporting it, they can tap into innovative management strategies that redefine what is possible for the curb. 

One of the most valuable aspects of curb space is its proximity to high value destinations. This creates a supply and demand model where demand for curb space in popular  areas remains high, while supply is limited. An economic look at the curb would suggest that high demand areas should benefit with increased revenue from parking fees, fees from digital parking permits, and fines. However, many cities have traditionally focused primarily on writing tickets as their means for benefiting from such demand. Enforcement typically generates bad press and creates a negative environment. Conversely, a supply-demand model that focuses more holistically on parking compliance can actually generate more revenue than from fines collected from citations alone. Compliance centers on incentivizing good behavior, such as adherence to parking rules, fees, and permits. 

More ways to pay leads to higher compliance rates and a decrease in citations

When the goal is to get tickets down and compliance up, goodwill will rise along with revenue because the money comes from parking utilization, not citations. When a city can offer more ways to pay for parking (meters, mobile parking payment apps, pay stations, etc) residents and visitors alike find paying for parking more convenient and therefore are much more likely to comply with parking laws. This ultimately drives parking revenue up and decreases the amount of tickets that need to be written. Revenue is generated from positive rather than negative reinforcement.

Portland, Maine, as an example, was able to decrease their citations written by 20% which they attribute to offering more ways to pay for parking. This concept has also been utilized internationally.  The Netherlands, which promotes over 20 ways to pay for parking, has a close to 100% parking compliance rate,  essentially eliminating the need for citations.

Promoting equity by utilizing compliance data

This focus on compliance is especially important for cities seeking to improve their public image. With many cities focusing on how they can make their services more equitable,  data on parking compliance rates can support better decision making  on pricing and positive reinforcement of parking rules. For example, if city officials can see patterns in low income neighborhoods where compliance is low and citations are high, they might be able to make better informed pricing changes to help create more affordable parking in that area, which will ultimately lead to higher compliance rates.

Creating a positive image for the city through compliance

When the goal is to increase parking compliance rather than decrease the number of tickets written, goodwill will rise along with revenue. Residents and citizens will no longer associate parking as a negative or unfair act. This slight shift can also help take strides to enhance the image of parking enforcement and the police department if they own enforcement.

For example, Detroit, MI recently conducted a parking study resulting from business owner complaints on how many tickets were being written. Leaders found that 70% of drivers weren’t paying for parking meters resulting in 90% of tickets being written for meter violations. This study allowed Detroit to prove that the problem was resulting from non-compliance, not “over-enforcing”, and the city was able to work with businesses to change parker behavior and promote compliance.

By seizing the opportunity to shift a mobility department’s focus from enforcement to compliance, cities have the opportunity to increase revenue streams from new sources, promote goodwill and focus on equity in their communities. Enforcement will still play a role within a city’s operation, it will just be viewed in a different way. If you are interested in Passport Enforcement Solutions, reach out to a Sales Representative today.