UPDATE: City’s Stipulated Fine Program Costing Taxpayers Tens of Millions More!

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A city program that reduces parking fines against large delivery companies actually cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars more last year than the millions revealed in a recent Independent Budget Office report, Streetsblog has learned.

Last week, an IBO audit estimated that the largest firms saved about $10 million in summonses last year from the city’s Stipulated Fine Program, which reduces the ticket price on virtually all parking violations (a truck double-parking ticket, for example, costs $115 for truck companies that don’t participate in the program, but only $35 for companies in the program).

But the IBO audit only calculated such ticket reductions — it did not calculate the lost revenue from parking tickets that were fully reduced to $0. The total value of those $0 tickets in 2017 was $23,049,710 — and just for the top 12 companies, according to a previously unreleased document made available to Streetsblog.

The biggest beneficiary of the $0 tickets has been the United Parcel Service. According to the IBO report, the delivery company saved about $3.2 million in tickets, thanks to the reductions granted under the Stipulated Fine Program in fiscal year 2018. But according to documents reviewed by Streetsblog, the company also saved $12.4 million in tickets that were completely dismissed in calendar year 2017, which overlaps the fiscal year.

Federal Express had $4.6 million in year 2017 tickets that were zeroed out. Verizon and Verizon Corporate Services saved another $2.5 million. And Time-Warner saved $1.6 million. (See chart of the top five companies below)

Source: Independent Budget Office/City documents
Source: Independent Budget Office/City documents

And that’s just calendar year 2017. In 2015, the largest trucking companies saved $20,081,440 in tickets that were reduced to zero. In 2016, it was $20,743,555. (One mitigating factor: Just as in the IBO report, these dollar figures represent the full value of the fully dismissed ticket under the Stipulated Fine Program; if the companies did not participate in the program, they would have fought many, if not all, of these tickets in court — and perhaps won.)

The city has long defended the 15-year-old program because it requires participating companies to pay some of the fine in exchange for not fighting tickets in court — where they might be reduced to $0 anyway. But opponents say that the Stipulated Fine Programs gives trucking companies no incentive to park legally or to lobby the city to create proper loading zones that would allow delivery workers to do their job without blocking other vehicles — a main root cause of congestion in the city.

Also, double- and illegally parked trucks cause a danger to pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers. There are multiple Twitter accounts devoted to exposing FedEx, United States Postal Service, and all the other truckers that park in bike lanes as a result of the Stipulated Fine Program (or, in the case of the postal service, freedom from paying any fines at all.)

Going forward, the city expects that the number of fully zeroed-out tickets will decline considerably, thanks to a major reform of the program in December that is reducing the number of tickets that will be reduced fully to $0.

 

  • redbike

    Stop criticizing the symptom — commercial / postal / “official” vehicles double-parking or parking on sidewalks — and focus on the real underlying problem: private cars parked on public streets for free or cheap.

    There’s no excuse for the pictured USPS truck blocking the bike lane. But there’s even less excuse for the line of (presumably) private cars parked adjacent to the opposite curb.

    No on-street curbside parking for privately-owned vehicles — NONE — where there’s need for commercial / postal / “official” curbside parking. When there’s curbside parking for commercial / postal / “official” vehicles, that’s the time to enforce parking regulations. With no special deals.

    Elsewhere, price curbside parking at rates higher than nearby off-street parking. Where there’s no nearby off-street parking, charge a rate that maintains turnover and a constant supply of vacant spaces. And curbside parking should never be long-term.

  • inline_four

    How far would you take that rule? Queens? Brooklyn? Yonkers? Staten Island?

  • If the City were to start charging fully for these fines, then the delivery companies would be the ones leading the charge for the creation of loading zones.

  • redbike

    Excellent question!

    Wherever demand for street space and curbside parking exceeds supply, some sort of rationing — dare I say “metering” and “pricing” — is needed, unless you want to allocate space to whoever gets there first.

    IMHO — and it’s a very humble opinion, prioritize access to and use of public streets to emergency vehicles — ambulances, fire trucks — then, public transit vehicles (and also taxis) and people, followed by commercial vehicles — deliveries and tradespeople. Let’s see how smoothly traffic flows. My point: street space is public space. Privately-owned cars have a low priority. Storing them — for free (or cheaply) — on public streets comes dead-last.

  • Rambo

    The Problem there is No place to Park as more parking and driving lanes are being removed! For Bike lanes NYC is Road Dieted to death! Many people die every day because of road diets when emergency Vehicles cannot reach them!

  • Gersh Kuntzman

    This is not factually accurate.

  • Tooscrapps

    A properly size two-way PBL is the perfect width for ambulances. Much easier to move a 20-pound bike out of the way than a 2-ton car

  • Joe R.

    DOTs own studies have shown over and over that bike lanes don’t impede emergency vehicles or slow down traffic. They just make traffic flow more orderly, meaning drivers can’t lane jockey and do bursts of 50 mph in between red lights. That may make travel seem slower to motorists, even if average speeds remain the same. Bike lanes also make things safer for all road users, including motorists.

  • Joe R.

    Even in the outer boroughs you can make a good case that parking spaces on arterials are best repurposed as bus lanes, bike lanes, or loading zones. Only on quiet residential side streets should parking potentially remain. Note I said potentially. I’d rather see such often one-way streets with parking on both sides converted to two-way with no parking and a bike lane. Such streets are often lined with private homes where car owners can park in their driveway. There’s no good reason to also give them free curbside parking.

  • Rambo

    There was nothing like the cop saying to the family that sorry that cars had no way to pull out of the way that impeded the ambulance from getting there. Sorry your husband didn’t make it because help didn’t arrive in time! Because those nice planters that took out a lane left no room! I seen this happen on a NYC Street

  • ZeroVisionPhila

    Road diets KILL

  • William Lawson

    Now this is the kind of idiotic comment we barely have to argue against because it’s so stupid. A massive excess of motor vehicles – way too many than should ever be in a city – are to blame for holding up emergency vehicles, not cyclists or bike lanes. As long as I’ve lived in this city, way before the bike lanes, I’ve had my blood boiled by the sight of ambulances and fire trucks honking like crazy to get through intersections which are blocked by the most sociopathic piece of shit drivers who refuse to move.

  • William Lawson

    This is absolute bullshit – too many cars are to blame, not the traffic calming measures that save lives and make the city safer and more accessible for non-polluting cyclists and pedestrians.

  • William Lawson

    This fine program is absolutely outrageous and should never have been implemented, ever. It basically reduces parking violations to an accepted cost of doing business and is essentially a tax, given that the deal clearly has no element of deterrence. The argument that if they didn’t have this program, the companies would clog up the courts by contesting them is complete BS given how easy it would be to solve that problem:

    1) Have all traffic agents and cops take photo and/or video footage of each violation they ticket, essentially making it next to impossible for the companies to successfully contest them
    2) Change the law so that an unsuccessful contesting of a ticket results in a much bigger fine and the payment of court expenses etc.

    They’re effectively holding the city to ransom by threatening to clog up the courts. You do not capitulate to a threat like this. You double down and call their bluff. What really pisses me off about our politicians is that they have a huge advantage over these corporations in that they would never, ever willingly give up a market like NYC, even if they had to pay fines in full. We could have them over a barrel if we wanted.

  • Rambo

    Removing travel lanes for bike lanes shoveling all the cars into one lane is so unacceptable! Had this been 2001 the only positive outcome would have not many of the big emergency vehicles would not have made the disaster zone save first responders life’s! Because you bet there will be another big emergency man made or not and citizens will die in a road diet! #Paradise

  • Rambo

    All the groups of Agendas aren’t going to wipe out the car! But they are going to kill civilians in road diets! It’s coming it’s as soon as the next big tragedy. Man made or NOT!

  • William Lawson

    It’s not unacceptable at all. We absolutely have to drastically reduce the amount of traffic in this city and you don’t do that by accommodating it. Emergency vehicles have always had a huge problem getting through in this city due to the number of selfish drivers who refuse to leave their cars at home, and the selfish people who take cabs everywhere instead of public transport. Evoking 9/11 to make your point just betrays your desperation. Apart from anything, traffic kills hundreds here every year, maims thousands more, and causes untold numbers of premature deaths as a direct result of the pollution it spews. This is why congestion charging is absolutely needed in Manhattan. Those who inflict this death and destruction upon New York need to pay for it.

  • William Lawson

    You have to step back at some point and realize how utterly ridiculous, illogical and at odds with reality your statements are. We’re not going to wipe out the car (to counter your pathetic straw man argument), but we will heavily restrict its use in cities which are being destroyed by it. You’ve already lost the fight – the momentum is too strong. We will never remove the bike lanes or make life any easier for selfish NYC drivers. It’s just not going to happen. I know people like you have this fantasy that some right wing mayor of the future is going to undo all of the progress and make our roads a deadly free-for-all again, but that’s just an unrealistic pipe dream and will never happen. Learn to be a gracious loser.

  • Rambo

    It’s how we deal with it we make it worse. Because we just don’t remove travel lanes we block everything up with planters! NYC took Streets with 2 lanes made them 1 and expected the Traffic to disappear though driver punishments! Look when I came to do some business it took so long to get though I had to pull in the loading zone to go to the bathroom! So I tossed the ticket away!

  • walks bikes drives

    A properly sized single direction protected bike lane with buffer is large enough for a fire truck or ambulance as well.

  • Rambo

    The crooked mayor and governor that decided an emergency for Speed Cameras to rob citizens removed lanes and blocked others to make NYC Mess! It was better in the 80’s It’s obvious you cannot and will not punish drivers off the streets!

  • Rambo

    Not when there is nowhere for cars to pull over!

  • walks bikes drives

    Part of the rationale for the program is that state law grants commercial vehicles the ability to double park to make expeditious deliveries. So the program eliminates the big companies from being able to get those tickets thrown out under that statute because the lower fine makes fighting it not worth while. So technically, the tickets are invalid to start. But the city could fix that issue by removing the program, making fighting commercial tickets in-person only, and then not allowing multiple tickets to be contested at one time. Thus, the cost of having a UPS attorney contest a single $115 double parking ticket becomes greater than the fine itself. The issue we have right now is a single person can contest a stack of tickets for a fleet at one time.

  • walks bikes drives

    That’s the point – cars dont have to pull over for an ambulance that is traveling in the bike lane. It has a clear path. As said above, if an ambulance is coming up the bike lane, it is a lot easier and faster for the cyclists to clear the lane for it.

  • Rambo

    Cannot put ambulance in a lane blocked with planters!

  • Joe R.

    The bike lanes aren’t blocked by planters. They’re at least 5 or 6 feet wide, plus a buffer of a few more feet. An ambulance can easily get through.

  • Joe R.

    Or it could fix the problem by just removing private car storage on any streets where more loading zones are needed. While I don’t sympathize much with these law-breaking delivery truck drivers, their behavior is a symptom of dysfunctional streets which still cater to private car owners.

  • walks bikes drives

    But that’s the issue. We call them law breaking, but according to the law, they aren’t breaking it.

  • walks bikes drives

    Rambo is on a roll of hyperbolic untruths. He’s not even from the city. From his comments, he’s stopped in once or twice. Not worth continuing the argument since he doesn’t actually know what he was talking about.

    However, that could be fun – slaloming around planters in bike lanes. Would add an Olmstead-like joy to the ride, and keep drivers out of the bike lanes. Yes, I know, of course it wouldn’t work nor would it actually be fun. Just imagining.

  • William Lawson

    No it wasn’t better in the 80’s. Hundreds were dying on the roads every year and kids with asthma suffered even more than they did now. Stop embarrassing yourself. Yes, we will eventually deter people from driving in this city. Listen, change and progress will happen despite the pathetic whining of an ever shrinking cabal of people who hide behind this “real New Yorkers don’t give a shit” nonsense. Forget about it, you’ve lost.

  • William Lawson

    Again, anyone who drives into Manhattan when they could take public transport or cycle is an idiot. That’s about all there is to it.

  • Joseph R.

    I see emergency vehicles pull into the bike lane beside planters to get around gridlocked traffic at least once a week. Bike lanes with planters not only improve response times by providing a clear lane through stopped traffic for emergency vehicles, when they’re built up to standard they provide a wide enough space for ambulances to pull right up to the curb to safely load up someone on a stretcher when needed.

    Of course the city is building plenty of ‘protected’ bike lanes which are too narrow to even safely accommodate a single cyclist without putting them in dangerous door zones(see 26th street) which doesn’t help anyone

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