If you’ve ever seen a waving piece of paper under the windshield wiper of your car, you’ve probably experienced a feeling of instantaneous dread knowing what you’re going to read. It’s most likely a dastardly parking ticket that you’ll now have to pay for with your hard-earned dollars.
Now think what you would do if you got three or four a day, and they were just part of the job. Drivers in this situation who get this many tickets usually don’t have to pay for them, but their companies do, and if you use FedEx or UPS, you’re probably paying for them indirectly.
FedEx and UPS drivers make a lot of deliveries, and they have to do them on time. To make those deliveries in big cities, drivers sometimes have to park where the city doesn’t want them to. This leads to parking in no parking zones, parking for too long a time, or double parking in front of a delivery point. This results in a bunch of parking fines.
The spot where the tickets add up the fastest for delivery companies is in the largest city in the US — New York City. In 2019, UPS racked up 348,890 violations and paid $23 million in fines to the city. That was around 29,074 violations every month. FedEx came in second with $9.8 million in fines for 146,019 violations or about 12,168 per month. Overall, delivery trucks in New York paid $123 million in total parking fines for 2019, with UPS and FedEx leading the way.
The number of parking tickets is so great that the City of New York established a program as early as 2006 that reduced the fine or even dismissed tickets if companies agreed not to contest them. It’s called the Stipulated Fine Program and is optional for companies to join. The reason for the program was that the load for the city to handle due to the number of traffic fines had become unmanageable. FedEx and UPS are in the program, but another huge delivery company, Amazon, is not in the program, and there is no data on how much they had to pay in parking fines.
While the program helped reduce the cost for FedEx and UPS in the amount of their parking fines, they still pay sizable amounts to the city every quarter. UPS had further tried to reduce its parking fine tally by renting space in parking garages and by sending out scouts to hunt for open spots or areas where the parking police might not be.
But parking fines aren’t just a problem in New York for FedEx and UPS. They get them in other cities by the wheelbarrow load. From 2011 to mid-2013 (which is the latest data to be found) in Washington DC, UPS received 60,582 tickets, and FedEx got 50,142. The average price for parking violations in DC was about $50, so UPS had to pay a little more than $3 million, and FedEx got hit for $2.5 million.
In 2007 on the opposite coast in San Francisco, UPS paid fines worth $673,334 while FedEx had to pay $434,046. These are just a few examples, and the amount FedEx and UPS pay in the hundreds of other cities they deliver to is unknown. It’s safe to say that the numbers from historical data would be about the same today in cities like San Francisco and Washington DC.
The parking fines are likely in the budgets of the two companies, but neither will disclose how much they allocate toward them. It’s more than likely that it’s built into their pricing model for the delivery of packages. But there is one giant delivery company that doesn’t worry about parking fines at all. It’s the US Postal Service. They are immune to state and local regulations since they are a federal entity, and they don’t have to pay parking fines.
So we may get our packages on time, but the big winners seem to be the cities. Their municipal coffers will continue to have a steady influx of money as long as UPS and FedEx continue to deliver packages.