Citing a drop in revenue from parking and shortfalls in the budget, Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje is pushing an ordinance that would double Ann Arbor’s most common parking ticket fine. Although the increase seems like a nuisance for student car owners, the added price will hopefully drive down demand for the number of car drivers in the city, encouraging the use of alternative transportation.
Currently, motorists levied with a parking ticket can pay $5 within 24 hours or $15 anytime thereafter. Recurring parking offenders who consider the $5 ticket a bargain for a day’s worth of parking will now abide by the meter or face a more expensive fine. Assuming Ann Arbor parkers want to save as much money as possible, many will choose not to park and find other means to get around. Walking and biking — environmentally safe and logical modes of transportation in such a dense campus area — could be further utilized, creating a cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing city.
Price increases came on the heel of the city’s realization that it loses money because it costs the city $8.27 to issue and process each ticket. Even though motorists will bemoan the increase, it should help the meter turnover rate — making them more accessible for temporary parkers. More importantly, costlier tickets will reduce the demand for parking in a city that is already pressed for space.
This reduction in demand will shift attention to public transportation. Former motorists can find more than adequate refuge in Ann Arbor’s well equipped but underused Link busing system which stops at many large establishments around the city.
If the increase in fines for parking tickets actually results in fewer people driving within Ann Arbor, Hieftje should act to reduce the supply of parking spaces within the city. Once this is accomplished, the city could move away from its current use of parking meters and its dependence on revenue from frivolous parking fines. With fewer parking spaces, city space could be utilized more efficiently to increase density, limiting the spread of urban sprawl and its consequent disadvantageous implications for the environment.
Plans for increased urban density could be more easily implemented if the number of parking spaces were reduced. Raising parking ticket fees may appear to be a hassle and a revenue-grab for the city, but Ann Arbor residents should support it as a step toward sustainable development.