21,947 reasons not to park illegally

Mapping the hot spots of parking tickets issued by PTS

Sydney Richardson | The Daily Wildcat

Vehicles parked in the Tyndall Avenue Parking Garage on Apr. 29, 2016. UA Parking and Transportation issued nearly 22,000 parking citations between August 2015 and May 2016.

If you build it, they will illegally park by it. Few things in life cause frustration like a lack of free parking, and even the best of us will explore the moral grey by pulling into a spot we may not have the legal right to occupy. 

Anyone with a vehicle who has taken a trip around the UA knows this to be true. Our friends at Parking and Transportation guard the sanctity of on-campus parking with the one weapon all sane citizens fear: the parking ticket.

In a perfect world, parking citations would not exist. But look no further for a dose of reality than the nearly 22,000 citations PTS issued between August 2015 and May 2016. After digging into the data, a clear pattern emerges: if you park illegally, PTS is going to catch you.

The Holy Grail: Where to park to avoid parking tickets

The Daily Wildcat created a density map compiled of 21,947 parking citations obtained through a public records request. The map plots the 219 parking locations where PTS officers issued citations in relation to the the number of citations issued.

PTS officers cover quite a bit of ground and no single area of campus is safe from their vigilant eyes, as is evident by the map.

“When driving a vehicle, I would routinely travel 10 to 15 miles on a shift, and this would include the patrolling of the garage,” said Rick Harbaugh, enforcement program coordinator at PTS. “However, I prefer to walk, and average about six miles per day on a shift.”

World Renown Parking Ticket Issuers

To the bane of students and campus visitors, the job of a parking services officer never ceases. PTS issued a median of 2,432 parking citations each month for a variety of violations.

“UA PTS has presented our enforcement philosophy at the International Parking Conference and to several other universities who have integrated our model into their Parking Services,” said Mark Napier, former associate director of operations at PTS. “We have integrated some technology to make officers more efficient and ensure that they have better information available.”  

While enforcing parking regulations may not make PTS officers the most popular figures on campus, they do much more than simply enforce rules. Harbaugh and other officers regularly assist motorists, including help with flat tires, dead batteries and other automotive ailments.

Harbaugh recalled one occurrence when a student required assistance with a dead battery. The student asked if Harbaugh would accompany her to class to vouch for the dead battery as the cause for her tardiness. The class of 30-or-so students broke out into applause after Harbaugh explained the situation to the instructor.

How are people illegally parking on campus?

The 11,459 parking permit violations account for over half of the nearly 22,000 citations given out over the course of last school year. In other words, pony up for that parking permit or suffer the financial consequences. We’d like to give a special shout out to the two violators caught for driving the wrong way, though.

As for the parking locations with the most citations, good old Lot 6090—located between Arizona Stadium and Highland Avenue dorms—takes the cake with 1,779 citations. The Tyndall and Main Gate garages trail close behind with roughly 1,500 citations each, and the last of the parking-citation titans would be Lot 5072, located next to the Arbol De La Vida and Arizona-Sonora dorms, with 1,481 citations.

Each location receiving roughly 1,500 citations over the course of 10 months means that five poor souls per day returned to their vehicles with that ominous slip of paper peeking out under the windshield wiper.

Get Money, Get Paid, Responsibly Pay Your Parking Citations

To prevent illicit behavior, PTS adheres to the old adage of hitting people where it hurts the most—especially true for college students—the wallet. The 21,947 parking citations add up to over $1.2 million in fines over the course of the school year, providing an ample financial incentive to respect parking laws.

Parking on the path to enlightenment

Those illegal parkers learned their lesson the hard way. PTS is out there on the prowl searching for the moment you slip up. Park illegally at your own peril, lest you face the fiscal repercussions. Or find your better self and park legally for the good of everyone.

“Please follow the parking regulations." Napier said. "Not because you might get a citation, but because doing so makes you a better university citizen. The bottom line is, the perfect day would be a day that every parking services officer went out, worked all day and found no one to write a citation to.”

Until that perfect day comes, know the numbers behind the citations and park smarter Wildcats.

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