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San Francisco Rolls Out Genius Cell Phone Text Alerts to Avoid City Parking Tickets

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by editor

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In The News

San Francisco is bringing one of the best ideas yet to enter the legal arena of parking tickets--a genius concept long overdue in avoiding huge fines and wasted money. Drivers can now avoid expensive fines by paying a minimal fee in comparison. It's worth it to avoid a ticket averaging over 100 times the amount. Forget feeding the meter: The California city will do it for you--with drivers giving the 'ok' plus a forty-five cent service fee plus use of your cell phone.
People really are tired of parking tickets and fines in San Francisco -- probably as irritated as those in the busiest, most-trafficked cities across the nation. Add in a boot, towing or car storage fee and residents just may exceed that monthly mortgage payment. This is a solution that sounds smart. Very smart. It's being tested in the California city right now but should be implemented, in cities across the nation -- pronto.
Unlike those shopping malls using customer cell phones' signals to track every move or for uses that don't benefit customers, this use of your mobile phone actually pays off for you--and is actually an opt-in method, versus places that may use the device you paid for without your knowledge or specific authorization. Customers probably won't mind giving out personal info including their phone number, even to the government, if there's any actual pay-off -- or avoiding of payment due.
When drivers feed the meter the first time in San Francisco, they'll have a chance to plug in their mobile number. The San Fran city will then send a text alert to drivers -- simply notifying them by messaging when parking meters are almost set to expire. Northern California residents can either make the dash to physically add money to the meter -- or pay less than half a buck to have the government do it for them.
San Francisco has upped rates for its California parking tickets over the years -- a 2008 ticket increase not going over well with local residents who viewed the boosted damages as significant. Roughly three years ago, that rate increase was meant to cover a city deficit. The new implementation using cellular phones could seriously slash costs and bring in some good revenue for the city -- if it occurs in combination with reduced government forces on the road.
Considering the average walk and time and energy spent fretting over timed-out meters, it's probably a service that new customers will find more than worthwhile. It's convenient -- and works for everyone. Residents or visitors avoid a parking ticket, and San Francisco (listen up, parking enforcement agencies in other cities) will still get that cash cities so desperately want. In fact they may just get more money off the scenario.
It will depend how many drivers choose to opt for that .45-cent transaction fee in lieu of running on foot to that nearly-expired meter, but something says the option (so intelligently-priced below half a buck) is going to be a popular one. And the city could actually make way more than a buck on newfound customers who decide to stay a bit longer, and end up adding cash to the meter in more than one transaction. The convenience fee gets billed per transaction. Forty-five cents at a time may not seem like much to customers -- especially when it comes to successfully avoiding a ticket -- but could be a major boon for the city.
And the city could save some more money -- or at least get less complaints from those who receive tickets and tend to suggest either city error or a bit of crookedness in assignment of liability and due fines -- by getting rid of employee time spent in administrative review of issued tickets. Fabulous. Particularly for the city's rep concerning ticket review -- a reputation which seems to be suffering even more than that of most major cities.
If those parking do choose to frequently opt for that fee even once, revenue could add up big-time for San Francisco -- interestingly, without anyone physically lifting a finger. That means less employees, and less wages, spent monitoring those meters.
The incredible by-product: The new parking meters could actually take vehicles off the street and mean less clogged traffic. Cities get a clue -- implementing a new meter system that follows San Francisco means you could actually tout that you're "going green" and leaving less of a carbon footprint, all while slashing costs associated with more employees on an endless round of monitoring. No word on whether San Francisco used that argument to sway the higher-ups required to authorize an expensive investment, but they would've been smart to do so.
San Francisco tends to be innovative and smart. Those in a similar realm may consider following suit: Get rolling New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles and the like -- there's no more excuses.
Yeah, this one's incredibly good.

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