Oct 14, 2008

Towing v. ticketing-the winner saves money, opens spaces

by Drew Menard

Nothing caps a bad day like returning to your parking spot after a long day of classes only to find it vacant or occupied by an alien vehicle. There is no question that some frustration may be a result of the new parking enforcement policy on the Liberty University campus. However, towing may be just the solution needed for the parking problems.

In the first weeks of school last year, 6,154 tickets were issued, according to the Liberty University Police Department (LUPD). Those unfriendly yellow slips cost students and faculty $160,086 between Aug. 20 and Sept. 30. More outrageous than the running citation total is the fact that the number increased exponentially over the course of the 41-day period.

During the first week of school, 533 citations were issued, totaling $14,755 in fines. The number increased by an average of 197.3 citations per week over the next three weeks before it finally declined by 26 tickets during Sept. 17-23. In only six days, from Sept. 24-30, 1,534 more citations were issued, tacking another $39,220 on to the total of $120,866 for the opening weeks of the 2007 school year.

“I do not think that (ticketing) did the job that it was supposed to,” Amanda McCann, senior and commuter, said. “I think towing has had more of an impact.”

The sixth week of school last year alone grossed $13,570 higher than the total in towing costs accumulated between Aug. 18 and Sept. 19 this year, which amounted to $25,650.

“Nobody really cared about (ticketing) that much. (Ticketing) really did not stop people from parking in spots that they were not supposed to,” senior Lydia Norton said.

It is difficult to evenly compare ticketing and towing. Writing a traffic citation takes far less time than towing a vehicle and towing a vehicle costs $75 more than the usual citation fine. Though the two are not comparable, 5,884 more tickets were issued during the first five weeks of the 2007 fall semester than cars were towed in the first five weeks this semester costing students and faculty $95,216 more in 2007.

Despite the substantial difference in the amount of issued penalties, students do not all agree with the new system.
“(Towing) is a very drastic punishment for a small offense,” sophomore Sara Svendsen said.

Senior Othon Zermeno, who has seen both methods, said, “Towing is going way too far. College students do not have the money to pay (the towing cost).”

Towing may be more expensive per offense, but it has saved students and faculty more than $95,000 over the first five weeks of school.

Beeline Towing owner Kevin Jones even discounts his company’s average towing fee of $125 to $95 for Liberty students.

“Beeline (Towing) does not orchestrate the parking regulations, it merely enforces them,” according to a previous Champion article.
Towing is not uncharted terrain for the college campus. According to the University of Virginia’s Web site, vehicles are subject to towing after accumulating more than $250 in outstanding citation fines. Boston University’s Web site states that parking without a permit or parking in the wrong place is punishable by towing, in addition to the applicable ticket fines.

Whether or not towing enforcement is agreeable with the entire student population, its effectiveness is recognized.

“When a car gets towed (the rules) are going to be observed, definitely,” Zermeno said.

“The rules and regulations on ticketing (seemed) unclear,” senior Tommy Bussey said. “I think towing is working better because it makes people park in the right spots.”

Better parking enforcement and an increase in total net parking spaces have improved some students’ views on the parking situation.
“It is very pleasant to be able to leave and be guaranteed a spot when you come back,” Associate Professor of Education and Special Needs Advisor Connie Hansen said.

“Towing has been better because it ensures that (commuters) have parking when they get on campus,” McCann said.



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