Free ART construction parking means thousands less parking tickets for drivers

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Drivers in Albuquerque got a lot less of those unwanted surprises on their windshields this year – parking tickets. The city says there’s one major reason why, and it’s a reason that won’t stick around much longer.

As the end of Albuquerque Rapid Transit construction grows closer, so does the end of the short-lived era of free parking on Central.

“As far as economic development driver during the construction, we decided that it would be best for free parking in the area,” Mark Motsko, spokesman with the Department of Municipal Development, said.

So far this year, drivers haven’t had to pay to park along Albuquerque’s busiest parts of Route 66 – from Nob Hill to Downtown.

Now, stats provided by the city on number of parking tickets issued reveal the impact. To date this year, about 20,000 less citations have been written by Albuquerque’s four parking enforcement officers compared to last year.

That fits right in line with previous KRQE News 13 reports that the hottest spots for parking citations in town are Nob Hill, the University of New Mexico, and downtown.

“We don’t want to go out and make these citations,” Motsko said. “The meters are there to turn over parking so businesses can have their customers come in.”

This isn’t the first major decrease in the number of citations issued. In 2014, the number of tickets issued by the city was around 60,000. In 2016, as the graph shows, that number was closer to 40,000. It was again just over 40,000 in 2015, too.

Motsko says that decrease can be attributed to the installation of smart meters, making it easier for people to pay with a credit card.

So, when ART construction finally ends, the numbers of citations is expected to go back up to about 40,000 and stay there.

As for money lost between this year and last? About $200,000, Motsko says, but he calls it a drop in the bucket. The city says it will make up some of that money from expired meter citations recently increasing from $10 to $20, and the ability to pay citations online.

When the year ends, Motsko says he expects 16,000 less tickets to have been issued between this year and last.

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