Getting parking tickets blows, even the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's chief admits. But getting them when you're not even at fault? That blows even more, which is why the SFMTA says that they're now enabling you to fight your wrongful tickets online — but, sadly, only to a point, after which the MTA's trademark inefficiency again rears its ugly head.
Let's be clear: this isn't for moving violations (aka "speeding tickets") or other citations you'd get from a cop. This is a system to protest tickets you'd get from an SFMTA staffer, like meter maids or fare inspectors.
The new online protest "portal" (which you can find here), can be used to replace the old first battle in your slog of a fight against the MTA's whims, a written protest you had to mail — like a caveman — to their Van Ness offices.
Now, says the MTA, you can submit all your evidence that the ticket you got (for fare evasion, parking, etc) is bullshit online.
Of course, this is still going to be a huge pain in the ass, don't be fooled. After all, the SFMTA says, it'll take them at least six to eight weeks to respond to your initial ticket rebuttal.
And that's when the system kind of breaks down, for after that "results of the administrative review will be mailed [Ed note: NOT emailed] to the person submitting the protest. All other correspondence regarding payment due and collections will be mailed to the vehicle’s registered owner only. It is important to ensure that mailing information with the Department of Motor Vehicles is correctly and promptly updated."
And, of course, if they deny your, uh, denial, you'll need to request a hearing. Think you can do that online? Think again, sucker! The MTA says that "requests for hearings, which are the second step in the protest process and provide customers with a second opportunity to discuss their citation with a hearing officer, will continue to be accepted by written request only through U.S. mail or in-person at the SFMTA Customer Service Center."
Laughably, Ed Reiskin, the SFMTA's Director of Transportation says via press release, “Getting a ticket is unpleasant enough...By making the protest process more efficient through technology, we hope to reduce the need for customers to endure a burdensome paper process.”
We'll leave it to you to decide if this one small step qualifies as "making the protest process more efficient through technology." But from where I'm sitting, this seems like another case of the MTA making one sad, shuffling step forward, only to take a few more back.
You can try the protest portal here. Let us know how it goes!