Because of the cost of Drexel-owned lots, most of us are restricted to the dreaded street parking. This puts us up against the incessant determination of the Philadelphia Parking Authority.
The PPA is probably one of the most hated organizations in the city. The officers issue incorrect and unnecessary tickets quite often, not to mention the towing, red-light cameras and other matters they are in charge of. The statistics indicate that the PPA, not the police, issue more tickets for expired meters and time limits near college campuses. The zip codes for Drexel, Temple, La Salle, and other Philadelphia universities all indicate on a database significantly higher numbers of parking violations than in neighborhoods without a college campus such as the Northeast and more suburban areas of the city.
I have had resentment towards the Philadelphia Parking Authority for quite some time now, but my anger reached its peak recently. I had to go to traffic court at the PPA building on 913 Filbert St. last Thursday, which is a 15-minute drive from Drexel University. I do not have my car on campus and SEPTA is not always reliable, so I had to Uber there and back, which cost about $25.
This trip to court was due to the fact that I received a $301 ticket while parked behind North Hall on 32nd Street over winter break; winter break was four months ago but my hearing was last week. I paid for parking all day and was in no violation of the law. The officer who issued that parking ticket had shoved the fine under my windshield wiper and out of sight, before I probably even signed into North Hall. It took me two days to even see it because he or she had been careless in placing it on my car, not to mention that it was filled out incorrectly.
My hearing was rescheduled, and I never received a notice because it was sent to my home address rather than my school address where I currently reside, which I specifically indicated when I mailed in my ticket appeal. If I had not asked my mom to open the letter I would have missed court and been responsible for $301 that I didn’t owe.
My problem with the PPA is that they are targeting college students on campus for the sheer fact that they can. It is obvious to anyone driving around our campus that parking is scarce and expensive. I have personally witnessed PPA officers walking up and down Market and Chestnut streets, waiting by meters close to expiration, and searching for victims they can issue tickets to. They have no mercy on students in a rush, between classes or at work because it does not matter to them.
The PPA simply does not care. They do not want to hear our excuses, valid or not. Life gets in the way sometimes, but the PPA is relentless. Stalking cars along street corners and lacking any mercy, they issue tickets to individuals whose meters have expired within a minute of the time slot. No time for excuses, no time for sympathy.
The issuing officers also do not have repercussions for issuing tickets to innocent people. If a person pays for parking or is legally parked, but gets a ticket anyway, it is he or she who is responsible to fight the ticket. The officers are able to go about their daily lives, while sometimes ruining those of others. They are able to act carelessly, sometimes with ill intent, because they know if the individual does not want to pay, he or she will have to appeal and attend a hearing.
Several people I know were issued tickets a minute or so after the standard over-night time period expired. The officer did not care about their receipt with the appropriate time stamp because the ticket was already written: “You can appeal it if the ticket is incorrect.”
It is their job to ensure that the people of Philadelphia park legally, pay for parking and do not violate certain traffic laws. I am not denying the fact that these individuals work hard and deal with a multitude of issues. I also acknowledge the fact that the employees who work at the various offices did not issue the tickets and have to deal with infuriated and sometimes rude offenders.
However, the PPA officers on and around this campus seem to be doing their jobs with the wrong intentions, targeting students who they know cannot afford to pay the tickets or who are in desperate need of a parking spot while in a time crunch. Over-patrolling and boasting an attitude toward citizens is not listed in their job description but seems to have become a part of it.