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I have never seen so many illegally parked cars on side walks, in bike lanes and in front of cross walks as here in the Geneva region; even when there’s a garage with open parking a bit further down the road. Yet one of the favorite complaints in the on-line comment section of our local newspapers is the number of tickets handed out by our police. In our last elections there was even one politician promising to reduce fines.

I hate to disappoint drivers, but I think there will be an increase in fines until drivers adapt to some of the new enforcement techniques being implemented. Personally, I take my bike or the bus into town. But if you really need to use your car the following information can help you avoid those high priced tickets.

1. Know how to use your Blue Disc.

Bildergebnis für geneva blue parking discThroughout Switzerland, there are blue zones that require a parking disc placed in your window between 7:00 and 19:00. Unless the sign states otherwise (for example, 30 minutes or 4 hours), normal free parking is 60 minutes; unless you actually follow the instructions on the back of the disc.

Turn your disc over and you’ll discover that if you park a little after the full or half hour, you can set your disc at the next point. For example, at 10:05 place the arrow at 10:30. Furthermore, between 11:30 and 13:30 there are special extensions for lunchtime. Most people sneak out and change their time or move their car, but I should warn you this isn’t allowed and driver’s will soon be fined for the reason below.

2. Beware of the new “véhicule de contrôle.”

Controlling street parking is becoming more automated and less open to cheating. By now Geneva has introduced two electric cars with four sets of cameras on the roof that patrol the streets and note down the time, location and license plates of parked cars. After each drive-by the program matches data per car. Any car that has overstayed, not paid or moved within the same parking zone will have a ticketing agent dispatched to its location.

This new system, already introduced in several big European cities, will make cheating without consequences very difficult. Each car can check between 500 to 1000 cars per hour. The cameras can capture number plates in spaces as tight as 20 cms while the car is driving up to 80 km/h.

Bildergebnis für fondation des parkings voiture

According to the Tribune de Genève, 60% of parked cars abuse the parking limits. However, free and cheap street parking (without a permit) is meant to be shared by everyone. By enforcing limited time frames, we all have a greater chance to find street parking when we head into the city.

3. New Parking Machines

Parking machines in the city no longer print tickets to be displayed in your car window. The benefits are that you don’t have to return to your car anymore, you can pay with bank cards and any amount you might over pay in cash -since no change is returned- is registered as a credit for future payments on your license plate.

The one downfall of this system ensnared my husband a few months ago. When entering his license plate, he adhered to the old system of entering the numbers but not the GE on his license plate. That was a CHF 40 mistake. With Swiss license plates, you must enter your GE or VD or AI in addition to the numbers. The French, since their license plates changed a few years ago, don’t have to enter their department number. To the credit of the Service du Stationnement, they gave him a one-time exemption after he wrote a letter along with his parking receipt explaining the situation.

I haven’t seen it stated but these new parking machines are probably talking with the above camera-on-a-car system and highlighting cars who’s payment has expired.

4. Decide if it’s worth the expense

A parking ticket in Durango, Colorado is $4. Here in Switzerland tickets start at CHF 40 (parked for less than 2 hours) and quickly reach CHF 100 if you are 4-10 hours overdue.  If the new ticketing car notes that you’ve moved your car within the same zone or changed the time on your blue disc, a CHF 40 ticket can be issued. If you park your car in front of a cross walk or in a bus stop, you can be fined CHF 120.

A couple of years ago a woman parked on a major tram crossing at Bel-Air for 40 minutes during rush hour. Dozens of trams were blocked causing a massive traffic jam. Her traffic tickets and tow truck expense totaled in the thousands of francs. Furthermore, she had to pay the TPG for the tram and bus delays.

For a complete list of ticket prices click here.

5. Know your P+R advantage

When you park at some designated Park and Ride (parc + relais) areas, at least one -sometimes two and for a small fee more- bus pass is included in the parking for the entire day. Click here to see the details regarding which P+R offer daily passes.

Some other ideally located parking garages such as the Mont Blanc parking have a machine to stamp your parking pass thus validating it for 90 minutes on the buses, trams and yellow Mouettes boats.

6. You can get a parking fine in a paid parking garage.

Long ago before the days of cameras on telephones (thus why I have no photo to share), I noticed a Ferrari and a giant Land Rover in the Mont Blanc Parking who had taken up three parking spaces. Everyone who passed would stop, look and laugh. The cars had been booted. There was absolutely no sympathy for these car owners on a busy Saturday afternoon.

So be aware! you can even get parking tickets in parking garages.

We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to learn more about our activities and excursions, visit our website at www. aiwcgeneva.org