Citations have gradually increased over the past two years, producing relatively substantial amounts of revenue for the Parking and Transportation Services Department.
According to PATS, there have been 40,988 citations given out in fiscal year 2014 and 40,083 distributed in fiscal year 2013. At $20 to $25 a citation, the total fines for 2014 add up to $1,096,255. However, the actual revenue owed from the fines is $926,934 and about 85 percent of that is actually collected.
Aislinn Maestas, the public information representative for PATS, said most violations are failures to display a valid permit and pay station violations.
This may seem like a large amount of revenue, but citations make up 10.35 percent of the PATS annual revenue. The majority of the revenue comes from permit sales, Maestas said. The money from citations and permit sales goes right back into the PATS department to keep service standards and maintenance up to par, he said
“We are a fully self-funded department. We don’t get any money from the University and we don’t get any money from the state,” Maestas said.
The majority of revenue from the total PATS budget goes to the shuttle system, paying for repairs, maintenance, gas and driver wages, Maestas said.
The free bus pass system that is offered to staff and students at UNM is not actually free. ABQ Ride charges $100,000 a year to provide the passes, half of which is paid by PATS and the other half paid by student fees.
Joe Lovato, PATS operations manager, who has been working in the department for 13 years, said a lot of money goes into lot repair to ensure that safety protocol is followed. The Yale parking structure has had deficiencies in the past that required the contractor to return more than once.
The actual enforcement of parking citations can be complicated. Maestas said the PATS system syncs automatically with the UNM identification system in real time, and that’s how they hold most violators accountable.
In rare cases of a violation by a driver not registered in the PATS system or the UNM system, parking violations may not have a sanctioned consequence. It then depends on the violator’s conscience to come forward and pay the citation on their own free will. However, if there are continuous violations from unknown and known people alike, PATS has the authority to boot the vehicle, Lovato said.
“If the vehicle’s license plate is associated with more than four delinquent citations and/or has a citation balance of more than $255, we will issue a boot warning,” Lovato said. “We are fairly lenient with our boot policy. Any other outside parking companies will boot you on the first violation, where we are willing to work with the person to resolve any outstanding violations.”
For students who continue to violate the parking policies on campus, the PATS department generates an automatic list to send to the Dean of Students, Maestas said. Holds would also be placed on the student’s bursar accounts if the required payment is not made.
Supervising Parking Officer Michael Griego has been working with PATS for 13 years. He is one of nine enforcement officers that rotate through the various lots on campus every day. Griego said he and his team make multiple rounds a day, but it can be difficult to enforce parking at different times during the school year.
“At the beginning of the semester we are really busy,” Griego said. “We are lucky if we get through an area two or three times a day.”
Griego said he sympathizes with those who are just a few minutes past their parking time, but once the ticket is printed it automatically gets sent to the PATS system.
“If we see that you’re coming and we haven’t issued the citation, we are more than likely just going to give you a verbal warning as long as you do not have any standing violations,” Griego said.
The PATS department collaborates with ASUNM to hold parking summits every semester, moderated by the Dean of Students, where there is a Q and A panel to answer any parking services questions that need answering.
Robert Salas is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DailyLobo.