Its Just not Fair! Grace Periods for Parking Meters
Toronto has a grace period for parking citations. If the citation is written within 10 minutes of the meter expiring, it can be voided. Read about it here.
Which raises the obvious question, how does one know that this has occurred. With legacy ticketing methods (pull out your pencil, officer and write the ticket) and legacy meters (insert coin here) there is no way to know.
But, as they say, technology thou art a heartless bitch. (OK, I know the original quote was about gravity, but it works.)
With Pay and Display or Pay by Space, and citation writing equipment that time stamp the tickets, its easy to institute such a program. Toronto, it seems uses P and D. Fair Enough.
I just question the entire idea of grace periods. If you wanted to do a grace period, why not simply sell 10 minutes more time that the amount purchased. If they buy an hour, give them 70 minutes, if they buy 15 minutes, give them 25, etc. It seems to me that by giving a grace period that is ethereal, we are setting ourselves up for argument after argument.
Even with technology involved, as in Toronto, who is to say that the clock in the P and D machine isn’t running off a different clock than the one in the officer’s hand held? I can hear the argument — “But I was walking up just as the 10 minutes clicked in. The officer saw me but wrote it anyway.” Or “They were standing around waiting for the grace to expire so they could write the ticket.” Or my personal favorite “Its just not fair, they should give us a 15 minute grace period. Look how long the lines are at Starbucks.”
There is no win in the grace period game. Buy an hour of parking, be back in an hour. If you are not, you roll the dice that someone will be there to slap a citation on your car. The real world isn’t fair — Even Walt Disney knew that: Bambi’s mom gets a bullet, Dumbo’s is burned in a fire. Its how life works. Winter is cold dark and harsh, but Spring does come, eventually.
The only way to be “fair” is to be as consistent as possible. If its politically expedient to have a grace period, add it on to every transaction. Simple, elegant, and no one needs to adjudicate it. When the parker starts yelling, the officer simply says, “Gee, madam, when you purchased your 60 minutes, we provided you with 70 to handle situations just like this.” A nice smile, a quick slip of the citation under the wiper, and we are on out way.