Washington's crackdown on illegal parking, which in its first year cleared the streets but yielded far less cash than expected, is now doing well at the curb and in the counting house, city officials said yesterday.
Although credited with alleviating traffic congestion in its initial year, the stepped-up program of ticketing and booting violators' cars, fell $10.8 million short of its projected revenue goal of $27.7 million.
Based on collections already in hand for the year starting last Oct. 1, officials said they expect to meet or exceed the new goal of $21.6 million in revenue, which is $4.7 million more than last year's actual intake.
Towing and impounding some violators' cars is expected to bring $1.7 million more. To reclaim a towed car, its owner must pay a $50 impoundment fee in addition to the cost of the ticket.
Moreover, said D.C. Transportation Director Douglas N. Schneider Jr., the program has "significantly decreased rampant illegal parking. In commercial areas, loading zones and parking meters have become more available for their intended purposes.
John Brophy, head of the parking bureau, said rush-hour enforcement has improved so much that authorities are considering shifting some ticket writers from morning duty to the midday period.
"It looks as if flagrant double parking and parking (in prohibited zones) during the morning rush hour has just about vanished," Brophy said.
Last year the enforcement effort was plagued by problems with its computer and information processing systems. Frequently motorists' cars were booted although they had already paid their tickets.
"That has been cleared up," Brophy said yesterday. He said information is now being processed "in a timely way," and complaints about booting after payment have been all but eliminated.
Further improvements in the information system are expected to make it possible for the city to begin by the end of this month to send parking ticket notices to violators in Maryland and Virginia, Brophy said.
The system is based on booting motorists with four or more outstanding tickets and towing illegally parked cars that create safety or traffic flow problems.
While praising efforts to deter scofflaws, Glenn Lashley, a spokesman for the American Automobile Association here, suggested that rigorous application of the towing program to tourists may be ecessively harsh.
Brophy said that towing programs are not uncommon elsewhere in the country, and that signs in tourist areas warn of possible towing.
He also said that the $500,000 spent on the city's system of 12,000 parking meters has brought in about $4.7 million a year, making it the nation's most efficient.