Parking Violations: Many Bills Unpaid

Harvard Doesn't Collect $90,000 a Year

Parking your car in Harvard Yard might not be such a bad idea, given Harvard's lax attitude toward collecting parking fines.

Officials said only 32 percent of more than 14,000 parking tickets given by the Harvard Parking Office Department have been paid in the last year, leaving the department owed at least $90,000.

"We don't really go chasing after people," said George J. White, manager of operations at the department. "It's really a voluntary payment system."

Those who repeatedly neglect tickets are liable to have their cars towed and then must pay fines of up to $75 to retrieve them. Nearly 800 cars were towed by the parking office in the past year.

Some students are bothered by the fact that the parking office does not take a more thorough approach to collecting fines.


"It seems so haphazard," said Richard B. Osterberg '96, whose BMW was recently towed to a lot in Somerville. "They don't follow through on the tickets and the next thing you know your car is gone."

"It's just a scare tactic," said Jonathan Keyston '95, who has received several tickets. "I would much prefer a policy that's more consistent, rather than all this bluffing."

White, however, defends the policies of the parking office.

"Some say we should be more aggressive," White said, "but that just isn't our philosophy. Our goal is to keep spots open for permit holders."

"All we aim to do is break even, not collect revenue from parking violations," he said.

A representative from the Cambridge parking office, however, criticized Harvard for not policing parking violations more strictly.

"They have a terrible collection rate," said Bernie Flynn, assistant director of parking in Cambridge. "They ought to hire me as a consultant. I could bring it up to at least 80 percent."

The parking office for the city of Cambridge is owed substantial amounts of money, as well, although at a much grander scale.

The Cambridge Chronicle recently reported that $26 million in parking ticket fines remains uncollected by the Cambridge parking office.

Some offenders owe as much as $4,000 to the city.

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