Wednesday, January 28, 2015

LA Parking Ticket Follow Up #2 And More LA Driving Hazards

As I was going through my mom's bills and other mail, I found an envelope from the LA Traffic Enforcement Division.  It was dated Jan. 22, 2015.  I had sent in an appeal which the post office tracking system said had  arrived on Jan. 16.  That's six days before the notice.  The notice said my mom's car had gotten a parking ticket that needed to get paid.

So I called the number and after a fair amount of "if you need X, press 1, if you need Y, press 2" runaround, I finally got to talk to Edwin.  I explained the appeal date and the notification date.  He took the violation number and looked it up.

Edwin:  We received your appeal and it was decided and the decision was sent to your out of town address on January 23.  (We came down here on January 24.)
Steve:  I'm in LA now and so I can't see my Anchorage mail.   Can you tell me the decision?
Edwin:  The appeal was approved.  The violation is removed.

Well, that was good news.  The ticket's gone.  Chalk one up for reason and justice.   I'd like to think it's because I wrote a sensible appeal letter.  (Basically what I posted, but desnarked.)  But it might just be the 'Alaska card.'  People tend to be nice to people from Alaska, like they think living there is enough suffering.   Or maybe they're dismissing a lot of violations now because there have been so many complaints and because the City Council is trying to get them to simplify the signs.  Whatever the reason, it was nice.

After my previous posts on this, someone sent me a link to a story about a design student who got a parking ticket in LA and designed a sign that should be easier to figure out - well it takes a minute or two to adjust, but it does look like a much better idea than what they use now.

Then, I opened the next envelope.  It a "Notice of Toll Evasion Violation."

Where was I January 2?  That was the day we drove out to San Bernadino to visit our former Alaska friends.  We used the carpool lane when the other lanes stopped moving.

I went to the website  listed in the notice.   It turns out that some of the carpool lanes are actually toll roads and that you need to sign up and pay ahead and they give you a little transponder to put on your car and it deducts the toll for using the road.  I had no idea.  I did see such things in Singapore  (you can see the ERP signs and a transponder on a dashboard near the end of the pictures in this post from 2008), but I didn't know that they had them here.  As you can see it was pretty dark at the time.  It said you could sign up and get a transponder and pay in advance and the fine would be applied to the purchase.  But I really didn't need one.

So I called them.  I talked to someone I thought said his name was Dorman, but maybe it was Norman.  He listened to my story and my question about buying a transponder and he said, that since I was from Alaska it didn't make sense to buy one and that he'd waive the violation this time.  I'm guessing that happens all the time, though I suspect a lot of times it's rental cars.

I did ask if all the carpool lanes required such a pass and he said no.  Only if it says EXPRESSLANE or FAST TRACK.

The website says it's an experiment and that the grant funding would run out Feb. 2014.  I guess the experiment worked because they're still using it.  But they haven't updated the website to say what happened after the funding ran out.

I can't wait for cars that drive themselves and have all the rules programmed into their computers.

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