There has been a dramatic drop in the number of parking tickets written in downtown Charlottetown.
Between January and the end of June this year, 9,916 tickets have been written. That’s compared to 16,262 that were written during the same time period a year ago, a 39 per cent drop.
“Something doesn’t add up here,’’ said Coun. Mike Duffy who has asked Charlottetown Police Services Deputy Chief Brad MacConnell to look into it.
So far, members of council and MacConnell himself have only speculated as to the reason for the dramatic drop — people are doing a better job of feeding the meters, the ongoing problems last year with the online payment system and the fact the parking commissionaires went through a learning curve with the new handheld devices they’re using as part of the electronic ticket system.
Duffy said it’s hard to imagine the explanation is as simple as people are paying more attention to the meters.
“That would hardly account for (39) per cent,’’ he added, noting that nothing has changed since the city doubled the $5 basic fine three years ago.
He said it could very well boil down to people are doing a better job at feeding the meters.
“Something doesn’t add up here."
Coun. Mike Duffy
Perhaps the HotSpot app can take some credit. It allows a person the ability to pay using an app on their mobile device and will alert that person when their time is almost up.
However, Phil Curley, chief executive officer of HotSpot, said he only wishes he could take all the credit.
“We’d love to claim that we’re directly responsible, as people paying with HotSpot creates more money for municipalities through increased compliance,’’ Curley said. “I do know, however, that Charlottetown’s ticket payment portal was down and maybe they eased up on enforcement. Also, they launched some new ticket printing handhelds that may have had a ramp up. Fewer tickets are good, as long as people are also being compliant.’’
MacConnell said it appears to be a combination of a lot of factors already mentioned in this story. He noted that there has also been a significant increase in the amount of money going into meters.
“That’s obviously a change in the behaviour, and I think that is a tribute to some of the enforcement issues that we have done, but also the availability of such things as HotSpot parking and the ability to pay your tickets with convenience,’’ MacConnell said.
The deputy chief said he is not concerned about a reduction in tickets if it means compliance is up.
“Unlike other types of enforcement, metered parking is about space turnover which is directly attributed to such things as economic development.’’