PPA on the ball

That headline – “PPA on the ball” – is one I thought I would never write.

First, because I don’t write the headlines.

Well, I don’t write them for the newspaper, but I do write them for the Stu-niversity blog.

As many of you know, the Philadelphia Parking Authority has been a long and favored target of mine.

It’s not that it screws up a lot. PPA writes almost 4,000 tickets a day and the overwhelming majority of them are valid.

Things go sideways when a mistake is made and PPA doesn’t own up to it quickly.

Very few tickets, as a percentage of the whole, are appealed and very few of the appeals win.

In December 2014 I reported that in fiscal year 2013, PPA issued almost 1.5 million tickets, of which 166,494 were appealed. That’s 11.1 percent.

Of that number, 21,040 violations were dismissed, or 12.6 percent. That means roughly 1.4 percent of the total were dismissed. That seems like a very small number, but when you look at it as 57 bad tickets a day it seems larger. 

One reason, I think, for the small number of appeals is that people don’t want (or are unable) to take off work to appeal (although the appeal now can be done online). For most people, it’s just not worth the aggravation.

I’ve written about a few people who decided to go through the process because they believed they were wrongly ticketed. They had evidence to show me and the hearing examiner.

In the case before me now, it’s not clear cut and the name has been omitted to protect the guilty.

Let’s call him Citizen James, who contacted me about what he said was a bad ticket. He fed the kiosk the maximum (and showed me a credit card charge to prove it) and had lunch with his girlfriend, which he said took less than an hour. Afterwards, he got into his car and drove home.

Later, in the mail, he received notification that he had been issued a ticket, which James said was not on his windshield.

When he got the notification, he was peeved but (like many others) just decided to pay the $36, which he mailed in.

Then he received notification he had not paid in time and now was looking at an additional $65.98 late penalty.

As I researched this case, I was impressed that PPA records showed the date when the violation was written, when the notification was mailed, the date James called to complain about the default and when he “requested a hearing by web.”

James proved to me what date he had made payment by check, but it was later than the deadline.

So that’s why this didn’t turn into a column – maybe James shouldn’t have been ticketed in the first place, but when he decided to pay, he delayed and missed the deadline.

He will get his appeal and I wish him luck. It will be a hard sell.