The Dog Ate My Homework, and 100 Other Excuses


The Dog Ate My Homework, and 100 Other Excuses

The city of Harrisburg has a problem, people don’t like the parking program there.  Now there’s a unique statement. I’m sure this is the only spot where people don’t like parking programs. But reading the article Astrid picked up on you would think the parking folks in Harrisburg were in grammar school and dealing with stern teachers. Read the article here.

As I understand it, the fact that there are improperly written parking tickets relate to modems not working, parking folks not setting their equipment properly, poor communications between enforcement officers and staff, plus a general breakdown of good PR between the parking operation and the citizens.

I note that on street parking in Harrisburg has been ‘purchased’ by an outside entity and is being run by a major parking operator. Fair enough.

If I discuss parking rules and regs and enforcement with some of the most successful municipal parking operations on the planet, they tell me that they focus first on customer service, then on the rest. Customer service is job one.

They feel that they are in a particularly difficult situation since the normal capitalistic self cleansing affect doesn’t work. There is no company standing in the wings to take over if a municipality does a poor job. They just keep doing a poor job.

So they must focus on keeping their customers happy. And the successful ones do.

This makes it even more difficult when a company takes over on a long term lease. Just where do the priorities lie? Normally a company tries to do a good job because if they don’t, they will lose something, business, a contract, employees, whatever.

Harrisburg is attempting to fix their PR problem by lowering prices. Hmmmmm. Who are the most respected companies you can think of   — Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, Nordstroms…not really knows for low prices. But they are known for quality, service, and excellence.

When people in Harrisburg or anywhere else complain about parking, they complain about tickets, about lack of convenient parking, about surly enforcement staff and bureaucrats (see article). They seldom complain about the price of the parking.

They complain about the regulations being inflexible, about “parking Nazis”, about senior citizens being targeted, about tickets being written for the most minor infraction. One improperly written ticket does more harm than doubling the cost of parking downtown.

Municipal Parking Operations that focus on eliminating those problems have few complaints and fewer problems with citizens. They work with the citizens to ensure the rules are fair and fairly enforced. Maybe Harrisburg and municipalities like it need to take heed.

Oh yes, my dog didn’t eat my homework, but she did eat a $20 bill that slipped off my desk onto the floor. The cur left just enough so I couldn’t paste it back together and throw myself on the mercy of a bank teller. Sigh


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John Van Horn

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