Traffic police issued 21% more parking tickets in Zurich last year as the city dropped its ten-minute grace period for tardy motorists. The policy change was largely responsible for a CHF3.3 million ($3.4 million) penalty bonus that seems to have taken the authorities by surprise.
Motorists were also caught unawares by the stricter approach to parking offences in 2016. It appears that many took the regular ten-minute period of “extra-time” on the parking meter for granted.
“Offending motorists had increasingly perceived the additional time granted to them in Zurich as additional parking time,” the city authorities said in a statement.
But last year Zurich city decided to copy the hardline approach of nearby city Winterthur and the cantons of Bern and St Gallen. Wardens were told to issue tickets the moment the meter went red.
But Zurich authorities failed to appreciate the effect of this policy change. The city had forecast a total haul of CHF59.9 million from all types of fines. The actual penalty total weighed in at CHF63.2 million. Parking fines were the only significant increase in the penalty statistics. Other traffic offences even fell 0.3% last year.
For the record, a total of 503,888 parking fines were issued in Zurich last year, up 20.7% on 2015.
Cracking down on errant parkers helps police maintain effective traffic flow through the city, which in turn improves traffic safety, the statement read.
As if life is not hard enough for motorists in Zurich, on April 1 this year parking fees went up for the first time in 23 years. This is because Zurich residents themselves voted in favour of the extra charges last September.
In some places, short-term parking (up to half an hour) has doubled in price to a franc. Another change regularised the hours (9am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday) that people must pay in all bays throughout the city.
The increased charges are expected to boost parking income for the city from CHF22 million to CHF28 million.