Washington D.C. Tops the Charts with $159 of Parking Ticket Revenue per Citizen


Washington D.C. Tops the Charts with $159 of Parking Ticket Revenue per Citizen

This is a guest blog post by Ryan Neu, Co-founder of TicketZen (www.ticketzen.com), the company that has unified and optimized the way we pay parking tickets. City Officials interested in implementing mobile parking ticket collections in their city can reach Ryan at ryan@ticketzen.com.

Parking in major metropolitan cities is no walk in the park. U.S. cities generate billions of dollars in parking-related fines–every year. While all cities have different policies and vendors to handle parking ticket issuance and collections, we set out to understand how some of our country’s biggest cities stack up in terms of parking ticket revenue generation. In this post, we will review the parking ticket revenue and population of the following cities: New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, and Washington D.C.
The following is the population of the six cities:

Approximate Population
New York – 8,210,000
Los Angeles – 3,850,000
San Francisco – 812,000
Boston – 625,000
Washington D.C. – 580,000

Parking Ticket Revenue Generation
Next, we looked up the actual parking ticket revenue from the most recently available Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports.
In 2011, New York City was the clear front-runner with almost $600 million in collected parking fine revenue. Boston collected the lowest amount of parking fine revenue at $62.5 million.

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Approximate Parking Ticket Revenue
New York City – $591,000,000
Chicago – $263,228,000
Los Angeles – $158,417,000
Washington D.C. – $92,600,000
San Francisco – $88,000,000
Boston – $62,500,000

New York City is 14x bigger than Washington D.C., so it is no surprise that New York generates more parking ticket revenue than Washington. However, if you look at the amount of parking ticket revenue collected by New York City and break it down to a parking-fine-to-citizen level, a different story emerges.
Parking Ticket Fines per Citizen
Out of these 6 cities, we know that New York City issues the most amount of parking tickets, but who generates the most amount of parking ticket revenue per citizen?
By dividing the actual parking ticket revenue, by the city’s population, Washington D.C. tops the chart.

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Annual Parking Ticket Fine Amount per Citizen
Washington – $159 per citizen
San Francisco – $108 per citizen
Boston – $99 per citizen
Chicago – $97 per citizen
New York City – $71 per citizen
Los Angeles – $41 per citizen
Out of the sampled cities, Washington D.C. is the most aggressive in terms of ticket revenue generated per citizen. Washington D.C. collects roughly $159 of parking fine revenue per citizen, which is over 2x the amount generated by NYC per citizen. Next on the list is San Francisco ($108), Boston ($99), Chicago ($97), New York City ($71), and Los Angeles ($41).
Washington D.C.’s parking office has received a lot of attention recently. In 2011, D.C. generated the same amount of parking ticket revenue as Los Angeles, with only 17,000 parking meters (as compared to 40,000 in Los Angeles). (LINK http://washington.cbslocal.com/2012/03/05/d-c-issues-record-number-of-parking-tickets-in-2011/). If you plan on parking in D.C., fill the meter diligently, or expect to get slapped with a parking ticket. Our nation’s capital relies on parking ticket revenue and is quite prolific with parking ticket issuance and compliance.

Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

5 Responses

  1. Something to keep in mind about DC (and I’d suspect NYC, as well) is regional population; not just the population within its boundaries. The former is an order of magnitude higher than the latter and comes with another caveat: out-of-state motorists tend to give little heed of citations, and DC has limited capability to force the hands of out-of-state motorists. I do see boots used on occasion, though…

  2. Yeah, but in DC, who’s actually paying the fines? Fines per citizen doesn’t account for out-of-state commuters.

    DC may rank high on this because commuters from Maryland and Virginia are actually violating traffic rules, and hence paying fines more than DC residents. Amongst DC residents, transit/walk/bike usage is in the 40-50% range. San Francisco and Boston may have a similar boundary issue.

  3. So many things wrong about this analysis, starting with, why is “fine per citizen” even a meaningful metric? A third of households in DC don’t even own cars, many of the tickets are given to folks from out-of-state who park illegally because they think DC has no mechanism to go after them for being delinquent on the tickets.

    But also, it’s not just people who don’t feed the meters, as the post suggests. Take a walk around DC (and probably the other cities) and you’ll see cars brazenly illegally parked everywhere (in bike lanes, on sidewalks, blocking crosswalks, at bus stops). These are offenses where the driver without-a-doubt deserves to be ticketed, and the hard truth is that they probably get away with parking illegally more often than they get busted, which is why they continue to take the risk and do it.

    This is a story about revenue and assumes tickets are given out purely as money-makers. If people parked legally, there would be no tickets. Why isn’t this story about why people refuse to follow the rules, park legally, in garages, etc.?

    1. Actually, I do drive around LA and frankly don’t see cars parked willy nilly in red zones, in front of fire hydrants, in bus stops, blocking driveways. I think this is because of good enforcement, and also because folks usually follow the rules. This does not seem to be the case in southern Europe, where cars are parked anywhere there is a space,often in the middle of the street. So there

  4. And as for being a fair metric — Virtually no one owns a car in New York, and people from at least four different states drive regularly into Boston. It seems to me that the issues raised by MC are as loosely based on fact as he seems to feel the poster was based on fact.

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