The coveted blue parking tags marking a vehicle as having a disabled occupant are becoming increasingly under fire by states and cities that say the placards are responsible for more congestion and taking away potential revenue.
For instance, in Portland, Oregon, there was a 72% increase in five years in the number of disabled parking tags. This caused Portland to miss out on some $2.4 million in meter revenue last year.
Additionally, these tags cause turnover to be extremely slow, which has caused store owners to lose out on customers and forces severely disabled drivers or passengers to have to walk further.
As the U.S. population ages, more of these tags are being given out, which have caused officials to start tightening regulations across the country.
Experts say the easiest way to stop abuse is to make the disabled pay the meter, especially those not in wheelchairs. Places such as Philadelphia, Raleigh, N.C., and Arlington County, Va., did so and there was more turnover in the spots.
The Illinois Legislature passed a law that takes effect next year in which free-metered parking will be reserved for only the most severely disabled residents. It was spurred in part by Chicago’s decision to privatize its parking meters. As part of the deal, it agreed to reimburse the company for free parking provided to holders of disabled placards. The tab since 2009: $55 million.
“Economically, a free parking pass is a very nice thing to have, and there are always enough people who are a bit unscrupulous when it comes to parking that you can’t expect self-restraint,” Donald Shoup, an urban planning professor and author of The High Cost of Free Parking told the AP.