The handwritten parking ticket, a common sight under windshield-wiper blades for about as long as cars have clogged Boston streets, is about to become a relic.
By month’s end, all 162 city parking-enforcement officers will be equipped with handheld computers that print easy-to-read tickets on waterproof paper.
Over the decades, countless motorists have been dismayed to find the handwritten citations, and then have had to decipher the scrawl and the checked-off boxes to figure out what they had done wrong. For some, the old-fashioned tickets have been their saviors — illegible writing or data-entry errors helped them beat the citations. For others, summoned for not paying tickets that weren’t really theirs, goofs have caused much grief.
Boston’s Transportation Department says the new ticket machines will fix those troubles.
”It really minimizes the potential for mistakes,” said Tom Tinlin, acting transportation commissioner. ”This takes out the human error factor. Any time you are writing something down, it’s only as good as the penmanship or the pen in your hand.”
The new machines are also expected to save the city money by eliminating the tedious data entry required to get handwritten tickets into a computer system.
Parking officers will now punch all violation details into their mobile ticket machines, which weigh 2 pounds and are about the size of a typical hardcover book. When their shifts end, officers deposit the devices into stations that recharge batteries and upload the day’s citations into the computer database used to track payments and appeals.
The Transportation Department, which has 76 ticket machines in use and is expecting the remainder from German manufacturer Schweers Technologies Inc. later this month, is paying for the $2,500 devices from the cost savings derived from eliminating data entry.
”They will pay for themselves the first day they’re on the street,” Tinlin said.