Missoula and Graduated Parking Fines

I have long been an advocate of graduated parking fines.  First ticket is $10, Second $20 and so forth.  Missoula, MT has taken it a step further.  They are making the first ticket free. Read about it here.

You may have heard about this program in other cities, but Missoula has a twist. They reset after six months. They only go back six months in searching their records so if you are a good little parker for six months your record is cleared and your next ticket will be free.

I think this is a good idea, particularly if you combine it with a new parking citation fee structure (raise the fines). Its great PR, and it rewards good behavior and penalizes bad.

There’s always someone who doesn’t get it:

“I think the freebie is awesome, and I think the price hike sucks,” said Bouchee, who isn’t a stranger to parking tickets.

This woman has a store and parks her car in front ostensibly to load and unload supplies. However it seems she parks there almost all the time, taking space from her customers, and strangely, gets a ton of tickets.

This is a carrot and stick approach. Our typical is ‘stick’ only.  Both work, but experience has shown that the carrot is better at changing behavior than the ‘stick,’ plus you have a much happier clientele.


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3 Responses to Missoula and Graduated Parking Fines

  1. Brandy Stanley says:

    JVH, in principal this might be a good idea, but in reality it only provides a tool for all day parkers to take up parking spaces on the street, since they are the ones that will be aware of the program and will take special care to abuse it.

    Say you have a main street in, well, Manchester NH that has 115 parking spaces. Then you calculate that the daytime population of the street is 20,000 people (ground level retail and upper level office). The 20,000 people have a 80% drive rate, so now you are dealing with 4,000 all day parkers with a “freebie” every 6 months. That means that almost 30% of your prime parking spaces will be taken up EVERY DAY with all day parkers taking advantage of their biannual freebie.

    So now you have to look at raising your hourly rates to get your optimal 85% occupancy rate. That rate hike is a tax on everyone who parks there, including the short term parkers who should be getting first crack at the spaces – 30% of whom will be forced to find alternate parking because of the all day parkers collecting their freebie.

    So is this REALLY a carrot?

    • JVH says:

      Sorry, I misspoke — I like the program, just without the six month part. First citation free, graduated fines from then on. Brandy’s problem is solved, revenue increases when folks get more than one ticket. First time offenders get a warning and perhaps will change their habits, scofflaws will get a great big stick.

  2. Joe Randisi says:

    I also agree about skipping the 6 month part. It’s like a 5 minute grace period, if they are six minutes late, you get an argument. Give them the first one free, that makes them happy and they now understand that free no longer exists

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