District rakes in $92 million from parking tickets

In a city that routinely deals in billions and trillions of dollars, $92 million might sound like a trifle but for the way it was extracted: one parking ticket at a time.

Almost 1.9 million parking tickets were issued in the District in fiscal 2012, according to data that AAA obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. Though that amounted to about 125,000 fewer tickets than the year before, more people who received them paid the fines, so the bottom line of $92 million in revenue remained the same as in fiscal 2011.

“Parking is a big business in the District,” said John B. Townsend II, a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “The District makes $100 million from speed and red-light cameras and $90 million from parking tickets. When you count in parking permits, registrations, licensing fees and the rest, I’ll bet the city makes close to a billion dollars a year off cars.”

Not counting Sundays and holidays, AAA calculated that the District issues an average of about 7.3 parking tickets each minute.

That equates to 436 parking tickets an hour, or 6,542 parking tickets a day.

Parking meters in the District are enforced Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Only about 10 percent of the people who receive a parking ticket ask for a hearing to appeal the fine.

About half of those who do challenge their tickets get them dismissed, AAA said.

The District raised meter rates to $2 an hour on 86 percent of its meters in 2010. There are 14,749 of those upgraded meters in premium zones, AAA said.

The city charges 75 cents an hour at each of its remaining 2,408 metered spaces.

The District also takes in about $7 million each year from its $35 Residential Parking Permit program, according to AAA.

Slightly more than 200,000 District residents have the parking stickers affixed to the driver’s side of their windshields.

Townsend contends that drivers circling the block looking for a parking space are a major cause of downtown congestion.

“Day in and day out, drivers engage in the relentless competition to find just one of the city’s coveted 17,000 open on-street metered parking spots,” he said.

Ashley Halsey reports on national and local transportation.
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