THE coronavirus pandemic has had little impact on the daily number of tickets issued by Northern Ireland traffic wardens, new figures reveal.
For almost as many parking tickets were issued per day to motorists during 2020 as last year.
Some 275 fines were issued per day from January to October this year as compared to an average of 322 per day in 2019 - even though most businesses have workers working at home.
The figures obtained by a Freedom of Information request to the Department for Infrastructure show that in the 298 days from January 1 to October 26 a total of 55,434 penalty charge notices (PCNs) were issued in Northern Ireland. During this time period, there were only 201 days where parking charges were counted, as parking enforcement was suspended between March 24 and June 29 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Last year, from January 1 to the end of December 117,807 parking tickets were issued. This equates to 322 tickets per day.
This shows a 53% difference in the number of parking tickets issued in the first 10 months of this year compared to the full year last year. Penalty charge notices are issued for offences such as parking or misusing a bus lane.
Motorists are hit with a £90 fine that is lowered to £45 if paid within 14 days of the issue date. These figures relate to the Department for Infrastructure's on-street parking, including in its three controlled parking zones, one residents' parking zone, and in its three off-street charged park and ride sites. In the department's three controlled parking zones in Belfast, Lisburn, and Newry alone, there are 2,340 parking spaces.
The Department for Infrastructure also own three charged off-street car parks in Belfast at Northside, Eastside, and Great George's Street. As well as this, they control the residents' parking zone at Rugby Avenue/College Green, Belfast.
Parking tickets issued in off-street car parks managed by local councils don't fall within these figures.
By October 26 of this year, the income received by the Department for Infrastructure for parking ticket payments is £2,100,534. However, payments received in this period also include charges paid for tickets issued before January 1, 2020.
The income received in the full year of 2019 totalled £5,168,295. This marks a difference in income received by the department from the full year of 2019 to the first 10 months of 2020 of £3,067,764.
However, the 2020 figures don't give a representation of the full year as they don't take the income received from parking tickets in November and December of this year into account.
On these figures from 2020, a spokesperson from the Department for Infrastructure said: "The department carries out parking enforcement to reduce the number of illegally parked vehicles to minimise traffic congestion, improve road safety, and facilitate access to property and the transport network for all users. It also enables reliable bus and taxi journey times.
"With the opening of non-essential retail, close contact services and some sections of the hospitality sector this week, there will be more people using our roads and streets.
"We would urge drivers to park responsibly and legally at all times.
"It is important for economic recovery that we all support local businesses, and the department will be carrying out parking enforcement to ensure that vehicles are parked safely and are not causing disruption."