By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia Parking Authority is writing fewer tickets and collecting fewer fines, according to PPA officials.

Figures presented at today’s Parking Authority board meeting show the agency has collected $3½ million less than it expected to, so far this fiscal year, and officials were offering several explanations.

Congratulations, drivers, says the PPA!  You are being more law-abiding — staying out of handicapped spaces, avoiding fire hydrants, and feeding those kiosks that have replaced parking meters.

Parking Authority executive director Vince Fenerty thinks one reason is higher fines for violations and more flexibility in how you pay.

“It used to be a parking meter just took a coin or a smart card,” he notes. “Now you can pay with coins, paper currency, and many different varieties of credit cards as well as the smart cards.”

Fenerty says another major factor is new legislation that delays the extra penalties for late payments until after a warning notice is sent, because so many drivers complained they didn’t get tickets left on their windshields.

Fenerty says some tiny part of it may also be the new courtesy training for ticket-writers, designed to soften the Authority’s ticket-happy image.

But, he adds, “Our officers are still doing their jobs.”

As far too many of us still know all too well.

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