ATLANTA - What's driving PARKatlanta to write tickets? Plain and simple; profit. In 2011, PARKatlanta took in 8 and a half million dollars in revenue and about half of that came from writing tickets. However, after a number of complaints the company was told to back off.
HELP DESK | ParkAtlanta ticket resources
We wanted to find out if that was happening and we also wanted to take a closer look at the company's revenue stream.
"That really leaves a bad place in my mouth," said a woman from Ohio after just getting a ticket from PARKatlanta.
According to numbers filed with the City, PARKatlanta collected $4,211,883 in fines last year.
"Are you guys under a quota or anything like that?" we asked one ticket writer.
"No," she responded.
PARKatlanta has a D rating from the Better Business Bureau. The report we pulled shows the Bureau received 10 complaints and PARKatlanta failed to respond to two.
However, things may be improving. We set up a test and it took 47 minutes after the meter expired before we got a ticket in Little Five Points. It was nearly 3 hours after the meter expired in Virginia Highlands before someone showed up to write us a ticket.
After getting complaints about aggressive ticketing the City changed the rules so that PARKatlanta would ease up. That led to another dispute over money. Fewer tickets meant fewer dollars.
According to its contract PARKatlanta keeps all the money from meters and tickets but has to pay the City 5.5 million dollars a year and when it couldn't write enough tickets both sides had to compromise. The City refunded Parkatlanta nearly 1 million dollars and in June the parking tickets for expired meters increased from $25 to $35 dollars.
The company has also been more responsive to fixing problems. Following pressure from 11Alive's Commuter Dude we noticed unclear parking signs had been fixed.
However,some drivers still believe more change is needed.
"I don't like it,"one told us.
Who would? But if you don't pay the ticket it doubles after 14 days. Now online you can click on pictures to verify that the vehicle ticketed was your car but if you disagree.
Here's a tip if you're mad about your ticket it's possible to beat it. We got our hands on the court data. In the last 12 months 779 people appealed their PARKatlanta tickets. Only 98 showed up in court. But it paid off because more than half won their case either on its own merit or on a technicality.
PARKatlanta sent us more detail about the reduced ticketing procedures.
For the 12-month period from May 2007 through April 2008, PARKatlanta says the City of Atlanta issued 12,000 tickets per month and had 900 metered spaces (for an average of 13.3 tickets per month per metered space).
From May 2008 until the start of the ParkAtlanta contract in late 2009, the City drastically reduced enforcement staffing to 5 enforcement officers and issuance and revenues declined dramatically. The current contract was put into place to address this shortfall.
Under the current contract, ParkAtlanta says it restored the number of metered spaces to 2,500 which was the number the City had in 2005-2006. For the past 12 months (Aug 2011-Jul 2012), issuance averaged 19,200 tickets per month (for an average of 7.7 tickets per month per metered space). On a per metered space basis, ParkAtlanta issues 42% fewer tickets than the City did when they ran the program at full capacity.