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Parking to be Enforced by License Plate Readers

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Braving strong winds on the Podium, spending a springtime afternoon at the fountain, and discovering a parking ticket on the windshield of your car – some of the realities of being a University at Albany student.

Students violating parking regulations should expect more stringent enforcement during the fall semester. In October, the Office of Parking and Mass Transit Services will implement license plate recognition for parking enforcement.

The license plate recognition system will be installed on two PMTS enforcement vehicles and will patrol lots for violations.

“Your decal will be replaced with your license plate,” UAlbany PMTS director Jason Jones said.

The increased efficiency of using license plate recognition will result in an initial increase in the number of tickets issued, explained Jones.  

“Overtime, the campus community – faculty, staff and students – will realize that enforcement is a little bit more precise,” Jones said in an interview Thursday.

University parking enforcement officials issued 12,308 tickets to members of the campus community between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018, according to data made available by PMTS.

Those tickets generated $376,000 in revenue – 7% of PMTS’ overall revenue.

Jones anticipates 10,500 tickets will be issued for the year ending on June 30.

PMTS manages the university’s 7,500 parking spaces. Currently, students pay $30 a year to park a vehicle on campus. SUNY students at the University at Buffalo and Stony Brook University receive parking passes for free – but Binghamton University charges students $140.55 for parking permits.    

PMTS performs the majority of parking enforcement on campus. However, the University Police Department does issue parking tickets to vehicles parked in loading docks, fire lanes, accessible spaces, and at fire hydrants, according to UPD assistant chief Aran Mull in an email statement.

Jones said nearly all parking citations are avoidable.

“The goal is to not issue citations. We want people to park in compliance. If you park in compliance, you’ll never hear from us,” Jones said.

Jones explained that 80% of tickets issued last year were for parking in faculty/staff areas, improper display of parking decals or the lack of a decal.

Senior sociology and business student Victoria Encarnacion has received two $35 tickets.

“Both were just for being in the wrong spot in the faculty lot,” said Encarnacion.

The other 20% of tickets were issued for parking at Liberty Terrace, Empire Commons, or the Freedom Apartments with a standard student permit, commuter students parking overnight, parking at meters, in visitor lots, on the grass, at fire hydrants, and in accessible parking spaces.

“Ultimately, you could say 99% of citations are avoidable,” Jones said.

Being unfamiliar with university parking regulations can lead to tickets.

Arturo Martinez transferred to UAlbany from SUNY Delhi.

“One time I was parked in the teachers’ lot when I first got here,” said Martinez. “I didn’t know you had to get parking passes,” Martinez said outside of his black Ford Fusion.

Once a student receives a ticket, an appeal can be submitted via the MyUAlbany portal within 14 days. Appeals are processed by an independent appeal board consisting of faculty, staff, and students. Less than 30% of the tickets received last year were appealed. More than half of the tickets that were appealed were accepted.

Approximately 12,000 vehicles are registered with PMTS, although they are not all on campus at the same time.

Jones, a UAlbany alum, acknowledged UAlbany has a parking proximity issue but not a capacity issue.

“People would rather go to a filled lot and drive around looking for a closer space than go to a lot that is wide open but is far away,” Jones said.

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