Densely populated metropolitan areas like New York City have become ground zero for clashes among cars, bikes and trucks competing for limited parking spaces. For delivery companies, the tight fit means racking up huge parking fines as a cost of doing business.
In 2019, for example, FedEx (FDX) incurred $9.8 million in fines for 146,019 violations, according to the New York City Department of Finance (DOF); UPS (UPS) paid around $23 million for 348,890 violations.
Commercial parking fines incurred in New York City in 2019 totaled about $123 million, meaning the two delivery giants were responsible for about one quarter of the city’s commercial parking fines last year.
The numbers come with a caveat. The parking fine data only captures vehicles with license plates registered with the DOF’s optional Stipulated Fine program, a spokesperson told FreightWaves.
The program allows businesses to waive their right to challenge parking tickets and agree to pay a preset, reduced amount for each offense.
Although many companies that receive a high volume of tickets choose to participate in the program, if a business has a vehicle that received a violation and is not in the program, DOF would have no way of tracking that, according to the spokesperson.
Amazon (AMZN), for example, is not in the program. So there is no available data on the fines the e-giant has accumulated as it ramps up its delivery and logistics operations.
In other words, it’s likely that UPS’s and FedEx’s fines are actually a smaller proportion of all commercial parking fines in the city than their numbers would indicate.
As eye popping as the UPS and FedEx fine amounts may be, they actually represent declines from 2018, when FedEx paid $14.9 million in parking fines and UPS handed over $33.8 million.
Asked why the fees might have declined, a UPS spokesperson cited the company’s “more than 30 sustainable urban delivery pilot projects around the world, including innovative uses of pedal-assist bikes, including in New York City, and working together with micro-depot solutions in crowded inner-cities.”
Free services like UPS My Choice and the UPS Access Point network that enable consumers to receive deliveries where and when they want also help reduce redelivery attempts.
A FedEx spokesperson said in an emailed statement that the stipulated parking fine program “plays an important role in our ability to serve our customers in New York City, allowing us to better manage the ticketing process while meeting our customers’ pickup and delivery requirements.”
In the statement, the UPS spokesperson also called out “the scarcity” of commercial vehicle parking, “which often forces deliveries to be made in a way that seemingly conflicts with other road uses, like biking.”
The underlying issue, the statement said, is how cities manage and allocate curb space.
“Simply put, the curb today in most American cities is overwhelmingly devoted to single occupancy personal vehicle parking, which is simply unsustainable and not aligned with most cities’ stated transportation priorities, like shared mobility, active transportation, safety, equity and commercial goods movement,” the UPS spokesperson said.