Miami Beach losing thousands in parking fines, city workers say

August 27, 2014 | 0 Comments

In just eight weeks, Miami Beach said goodbye to $85,000 in revenue it could have earned from parking citation fees. That’s the implication of claims from enforcement officials who say that the new parking system implemented by the city three months ago has serious glitches.

1111 Lincoln Road parking garage and view of miami beach

Miami Beach’s brand-new parking system has lost $85,000 due to glitches. Image from Mark Hogan.

When working correctly, the system allows motorists to pay for parking meters by app, mobile phone, or kiosk. Parking attendants then verify the payment via electronic handheld devices.

But many ticket writers for the city say that the system malfunctions on a regular basis. For instance, in a demonstration for Local 10 investigative reporter Ross Palombo, who identified a driver who had paid using the new system, a parking official was unable to verify the transaction.

“We can’t do it right now because the system is not working,” he said, speaking under condition of anonymity while showing Palombo the error message displayed on his screen.

Unable to verify payment, parking officials can’t issue tickets, causing Miami Beach to lose out on revenue from parking fines. There’s evidence that it’s already happening. In a memo recently released by the city, parking-citation revenue was reported to be down more than 10 percent. It also said that, in the first two months that the new system has been in place, revenue was down $16,000 in the first month and $69,000 in the second month when compared to the same time period last year.

When queried further, the city provided statistics based on a 17-day period. In that timeframe, the handheld devices failed an average of 8 percent, with some failing up to 16 percent in any single day. In comparison, Chicago, which has had similar problems with its recently introduced parking payment system, offers an error rate of less than 1 percent for its handheld devices.

Already the system has cost Miami Beach more than $300,000. Public records show that its development and implementation since the city began working on the transition from the old to the new system two years ago has cost $280,000. Maintenance fees, which the city approved only a few months ago, add another $50,000 to the total.

Drivers may also pay a toll. Although they may have legitimately paid using the new system’s app, the errors occurring mean they may still receive a ticket. According to city figures, 128 drivers were issued tickets during the first two months that the system has been in place. All the tickets were contested and later dismissed.

Motorist Diana Lassel, who parks frequently in city-owned spots, expressed concern: “I don’t want to sit in a line anywhere and prove it. We rely on the system to work.”

“It’s frustrating,” Lassel continued. “It seems off balance. Those who are paying are helping the city, and those who aren’t can’t be checked.”

Mayor Philip Levine has stated that the city is working to resolve the issues as soon as possible.


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Category: Parking Tech