In 2019, over 70 thousand parking tickets in Amsterdam were appealed. More than half of those appeals were successful, meaning that these parking tickets did not have to be paid.

A freedom of information request revealed that the number of successful appeals during that year was 42,662. The total number of tickets issued was 551,550. This implies that almost 8% of tickets were unjustified.

According to Appjection, which helps simplify the process of appealing a ticket, the use of automated systems leads to a large number of cases where people are fined without good reason.

“For example, someone who has a special parking permit because of medical conditions, might get fined when they go to Amsterdam for a day, because the system isn’t equipped to deal with physical parking permits,” says Max Heck, co-founder of Appjection.

Automated parking control

Since 2013, the City of Amsterdam has been using an ‘automated parking control’ system. Vehicles with large cameras drive around the city, automatically scanning license plate numbers.

Processing of parking tickets has been outsourced to Egis Parking Services B.V., a private contractor. Whenever one of the on-car cameras registers a parked car that does not have valid parking rights, one of their employees checks the image to verify that the system got it right. Heck notices that the software operating these systems isn’t foolproof. He says it is quite common for fines to be sent because of an error in one of the registration systems that keep track of parking rights.

The City of Amsterdam emphasises their leniency when it comes to handling appeals. According to a spokesperson, a large majority of successful appeals occur because someone made a mistake when they tried to pay for parking.

He said it is common for people to enter the wrong registration number, or to select the wrong location in their parking app.

Increasing revenue from parking

The city’s revenues from parking have increased dramatically since automated checks were introduced. During the last year without the camera cars, the city collected 157 million euro for parking rights. In 2019, this figure increased to 249 million.

“It’s not limited to parking tickets”

From the large volume of appeals that Max Heck sees in his daily work, he knows that problems with automated parking systems exist in other cities as well. “And it’s not limited to parking tickets,” he says.

“We see the same kinds of issues with traffic light cameras. Often when traffic guards direct traffic through a red light, everybody gets a ticket. Even though the picture clearly shows what’s going on. Citizens end up being made responsible.”