Cities kick out smartphone app threatening parking ticket revenue

Cities kick out smartphone app that fights parking tickets

Fixed, a popular smartphone app that fights customers’ traffic tickets for them, has been forced to cease its parking ticket services in San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles recently, after facing obstruction from agency officials in the three California cities.

Municipal authorities have never had a friendly relationship with the innovative start-up founded in 2013, whose attorneys have successfully dismissed over 10,000 traffic citations.

With Fixed, users scan their traffic tickets onto their phones, prompting a Fixed agent to review the ticket against a list of common errors that might render it invalid, before sending a customized letter to the city on the user’s behalf. The app even utilizes Google Streetview to check whether authorities have posted the requisite signage and warnings in the area to ensure the parking ticket is legitimate.  Fixed offers its users access to affordable attorneys who will fight the ticket for them so they never had to step inside a court room.

“Over 50% of tickets have an issue or error that makes them invalid,” Fixed co-founder David Hegarty told TechCrunch. “But we get frustrated because the SFMTA [San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency] doesn’t play by the rules of what’s valid versus invalid. They’re a complete stickler for the rules when issuing the ticket…but they have a very lax interpretation of the rules when it comes to arbitrating disputes.”

Rather than address the issue by instructing officers and parking attendants to write legally valid tickets, the cities have been uncooperative. In San Francisco, where Fixed is headquartered, the city government offers no way to submit ticket contests online.

According to Gizmodo, San Francisco parking violations cost drivers $74 each -- the most expensive parking tickets in the country -- which eventually add up to around $130 million a year for the city.

While Hegarty hopes the apps can resume services in those cities which have about 100,000 users, the company will focus on its efforts on challenging other traffic citations, such as speeding, red light, and stop sign tickets.

A longer version of this article originally appeared on Watchdog.org. Read more.

About the Authors

Payton Alexander is a contributor of Watchdog Arena, Franklin Center’s network of writers, bloggers and citizen journalists.


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