BUFFALO, N.Y. - For the first time in a long time, you'll pay more if you get a parking ticket in the City of Buffalo.
As of Wednesday February 1st parking fines went up.
City officials say it's just another side effect of living in an increasingly vibrant city with new growth like Buffalo. There are just not enough spots to park on the street especially in downtown areas.
Buffalo Parking Commissioner Kevin Helfer says, "Parking is a huge concern and I do hear from people who say to me...you know what...for a 30 dollar fine...guess what it's pretty cheap. I really don't care...I'm gonna take my chances. That's not what we really want. We want that turnover especially downtown and in business districts so that people aren't just saying 'I'll take the ticket.'"
So it should be no surprise to learn that those parking ticket fines are going up by about ten dollars as of February 1st. They were actually approved by city council last summer. So now a basic 30 dollar ticket will go up to 40 dollars. The fine for parking illegally in a handicapped space will go up from 70 dollars to 80 dollars. And late fees if you don't pay your fine within eight days will go up another ten dollars as well to 55 dollars or more depending on the parking offense.
Helfer says the fine for going over the two hour limit for an on street space is in part designed to push people into parking garages or ramps. That especially applies to those with longer appointments for court, government business, or professional meetings.
But what about the anticipated extra one million dollars in government revenue which will coming from overparked motorists?
2 on Your Side asked Mayor Byron Brown if he is concerned that some people will say this is just a money grab by the city.
He replied, "Well I would respond to it by saying that traffic ticket fees have not gone up in 15 years. So this is not a money grab. We have heard from the business and residential base of the city that hey wanna see traffic circulate more frequently. So we're responding to request in the community to promote traffic circulation."
While that extra one million dollars from extra fees on these tickets is going into the city's general fund, some of it could also go to buy new ticket writing machines and other equipment for parking enforcement.
Also speaking of technology that new parking pay app using your smartphone on Buffalo streets has been delayed a number of times since the city first announced it back in October 2015. Now it turns out the app could go into service in early April.
Commissioner Helfer says the problem was the technology involved. They had to get the city systems talking to each other. "It's software. It's not only just the parking app but it's communicating and working with our hand held ticket writing machines. Because when somebody goes and gets that parking app how are my people in the field who are my enforcers gonna know that somebody paid by cell. So that's a little bit of the glitch that we had to work through with the company with the pay by cell, with the software."
Commissioner Helfer says they finally got the system synched now with the firm called Passport that already has some app setups with private parking lots. He says they will now finalize the details and then take the month of March to actually promote and market that app to drivers. That means they should be able to roll it out in early April.