Parking meter program changes: Two under-reported changes could cost you money

cov-pay_parking_by_smartphone

Vancouver parking meter. Photo: City of Vancouver website.

Below we share an analysis by kind reader Rhett Tolmie of some impending changes in Vancouver parking policies that have been largely un-noticed so far (time-limit zones being in effect Sundays and holidays, and the reduction in the early payment option on parking tickets).

Parking is expensive, and policies affect many people who drive or ride in cars. In the pocketbook. In convenience. In stress levels. In time consumption. And you could even say quality of life. They also affect customer traffic for businesses that depend on customers who drive. If you have comments, you are invited to write or speak to Council

The Vancouver City Council meeting on Wednesday, Nov 16, 2016 (Standing Committee on City Finance and Services) will consider “Parking Meter Program Changes and Various By-law Changes Related to Parking” (download staff report here, PDF 27 pages). (This item was bumped over from the Nov 15 Council meeting to hear from speakers.)

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Letter from Rhett Tolmie to CityHallWatch editor from RT, 15-Nov-2016.

Parking Meter Program Changes and Various By-law Changes Related to Parking

The media is reporting on the parking meter increase, but it’s skipping over the other various by-law changes that may be interesting too.

The two changes that are getting a pass over are, making parking time limit zones in effect on Sundays and Holidays, and the plan to reduce the early payment discount when we get a parking ticket.

I’m sure it may have gone un-noticed that when the city installs new 2 hr parking signs they are blank on any mention of which days they are in effect. (example: Mon-Sat) You’ll find this on the signs around Olympic Village among other locations. That blank area would suggest it was in effect 7 days a week. But, the truth is due to the wording in the bylaw, no time limit is in effect on a Sunday or holiday.

But, that’s about to change. Time limits, where the sign is blank on the days in effect will now be effective on Sundays and Holidays. As for the old signs, watch how fast the city scrapes of the old Mon-Fri/Sat off the time limit signs.

The other change is reducing the early payment discount from 50% to 40%. Say you get a ticket at a meter, pay it off in 14 days and you would be out of pocket $35. After the city change, it will cost you $42. That’s around a 17% increase. Why the need to punish the early payers? Two official reasons.

First, it “brings discounts closer in line with other Canadian cities.” That is true, sort of. Most cities do give a smaller discount on the early payment of a ticket, but most cities don’t have as high of fines as Vancouver does, in the first place. A parking meter ticket in Toronto is $30, in Montreal $60, in Halifax $25.

Second, “encourages increased compliance with parking regulations.” But, the city also admits, “The recommended reduction of the early payment discount for by-law tickets… is expected to result in an increase of $1.4 to $2 million of annual revenue.”

The annual revenue of parking tickets for 2016 is expected to be $17.6 million on approximately 375,000 tickets issued. This means the city expects an added $2 million in revenue by writing fewer tickets. I don’t usually see parking enforcement as a “cash grab”, as enforcement is needed in our city. But, to make more money on the backs of people doing the “right thing” by paying their parking ticket early smacks of a shameless cash grab.

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SELECTED MEDIA COVERAGE

Media coverage on parking fee increases.
CBC – Pricier parking could be coming to peak areas in VancouverCity eyeing big changes to meters, including some rate hikes, some rate decreases.
CTV news – $1/hour parking meter increase recommended in parts of Vancouver.

3 thoughts on “Parking meter program changes: Two under-reported changes could cost you money

    • A few points on that suggestion.

      1; There are about 2% bike commuters compared to car commuters in the city and is slowly rising. This was in a city report a couple of years ago. Not a huge number of cyclists.

      2; There are not the number of bike lock facilities to match the number of bikes. Most of the bike racks I am aware of are private, installed by business, even thought they may appear to be city facilities.

      3: Suggesting cyclists “must pay same rate” in an interesting proposal. Parking spaces are measured in linear meters. The “same rate” would be about 1/6 of what a car driver pays. Parking space meter rates are established on block-by-block demand and range from $1 and $7, thus cyclists would have to shell out between 18¢ and $1.15 per hour. I think that installation, management and enforcement may cost more than 17¢ per hour. Remember, there are GST and 21% Translink tax included in the rate so the city gets after tax is 13¢ to 91¢.

      4; How would you manage and enforce parking meters for bikes? Bicycles aren’t registered vehicles.

      5; The basic premise is that cyclists should pay for use as do car drivers. A fair comment on the face of it, however that would inevitably lead to the conclusion that cyclists should pay for road construction and maintenance. Currently, roads are paid for through car registration fees and licenses, fuel sur-taxes, Translink and tax transfers from federal and provincial governments. How would that work for bicycles?

      If the city were to install bike lock facilities that matched car parking, I’d say that “meters must be installed on all bike racks” may be a point. I suspect the cost would be close to or more than the revenue generated. Until, then, you should be happy the cyclist didn’t take a car and has left you a space.

      • Well I found a biker chaining up a motorist park meter when I went in Shaw, told this to remove but as usual these people are ignorant the parking meter guy should fine him $300 this has to stop no matter what you say or stats bikers are free loaders on public, also we need more public parking in downtown, Broadway and west end, I’m anti biker and anti Vision party and stay that way until they are removed from City Hall, my office in the Bentall Towers

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