You’ve probably already seen them if you live in the big cities of France, or if you simply received an FPS (Post-Parking Package) during your visit to these cities this summer for the holidays, without even being told, the “parking radar cars” or “PV Sulfators” put millions of drivers on an ordeal.
First introduced in Marseille at the end of 2018, these vehicles, which literally replace public road surveillance officers (ASVP), can control several thousand vehicles per hour! Suffice it to say that in terms of revenue related to paid parking infractions, these have more than doubled in the space of a few years. As evidence, in 2019, they amounted to more than 210 million euros. And since then, this phenomenon has taken hold in almost all of France, without even warning the inhabitants of this change, which is expensive, very expensive, as many residents of the 13th arrondissement of Paris that we were able to see attest.
“You can’t even go to the parking meter without fear of being fined”
New tenant of an apartment in the 13th arrondissement of Paris, Yacine has already had the sad experience of receiving multiple FPS in his mailbox. For good reason, despite having paid several hours for parking at the parking meter on his street, the latter was fined 5 times in… 5 days, for this parking radar car.
“I still haven’t had time to ask for my resident card to park and I can’t pay 36 euros for parking every day! It’s just absurd. You can’t even go to the parking meter without fear of being fined”. Through these statements, several thousand French people will recognize each other and who, without a doubt, have already had the same experience.
In fact, since the arrival of this automation of paid parking control, agents no longer need to travel on the streets, it is now increasingly rare to find them. The latter were replaced by vehicles with 4 roof towers (camera and automatic number plate readers), Renault Zoé white in the case of the capital, which can control up to 1,500 parked vehicles per hour. On board, it is not even the public road inspection agents who do the work, but the employees of the delegated companies.
The problem ? That’s because these vehicles pass 6 to 7 times a day in the neighborhood, explains Yacine, and it is possible to be fined twice in the same day. In fact, this Post-Parking Package (FPS) lasts for 6 hours after the infraction is detected. That is, with paid parking from Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 8 pm in the capital, you can be fined at 9:01 am, then from 3:01 pm on the same day!
Of course, the government has been planning to fill its coffers with this kind of control since a parking renovation was rolled out in January 2018, nearly a year before these PV sulphates arrived. Finished the PV for parking of 17 euros, place now with this famous FPS whose value is freely determined by the metropolises. The days when PV was more profitable than a day of paid parking at the meter are over. In Paris, the FPS is 50 euros when there is no advance payment at the parking meter. Paid within 7 days, the latter can drop to 35 euros.
But, more than the fixed fine, it is above all the inspection method that arouses indignation among local residents, who feel manipulated and used.
Abuses and excesses that bother
Taking the risk of not paying for parking on your street for an hour, or even a few minutes, is no longer a dangerous game, it has become a game where the winner is known even before the game starts.
We were able to experiment recently, without obviously wanting to, with a test model from the Renault press fleet, a Mégane 4 thermal that we used for a comparative test with the new electric version. Back from the presentation of the Alpine A110 electric concept car at the French Formula 1 Grand Prix, we arrived at 11am in the 13th arrondissement, dropped off our equipment and resumed filming near Fontainebleau. We pay the sum of 10 euros for…. 2:30h parking so we are in order until 1:30pm but we get the vehicle back at 2:10pm.
Almost a month after the event ended, we received an email from the Renault press fleet informing us about this FPS, not indicated during the facts about the vehicle in question, as the scanned plates are sent directly to an agent who, behind from your desk, remotely validate the offense.
14:05 This is the time we were checked in, 5 minutes before our departure. No luck at the time, but the moral of the story shows us once again that it’s no use going to the parking meter to pay for all those hours of parking. In fact, in total we pay 50 euros for parking (including 10 euros for the parking meter and 40 euros for the FPS) for this day, that is, the value of the fee without deduction.
For others, the mail goes much less well. Regularly visiting their student son in Paris, Stéphane and Annick admit to having already received an FPS just seconds after their vehicle stopped in a square. “My wife entered the apartment, when I went to put money on the parking meter a street away, the car had already passed. At the time, I didn’t think about the ticket, because I had arrived 2 minutes ago”.
Less than a week later, the couple received an FPS of 50 euros at their home, not counting the approximately 15 euros of parking added to the parking meter that will not have had time to be accounted for. Despite an attempt to challenge, with no response in return, the couple was forced to pay the fine to avoid a raise.
In addition, it becomes legitimate to question whether it is still worth taking your vehicle in the metropolises. How to make sure you don’t get fined when most drivers are in good standing and do whatever it takes to avoid precisely this kind of expensive fine.
The car pushed in big cities through this method?
If all means are good to force the French to stop using their vehicle, this method contributes heavily to the exclusion of cars from metropolitan areas. With the advent of the ZFE, the rise of the electric vehicle and the planned end of the internal combustion engine car, everything is being done to ensure that the mobility of tomorrow is completely transformed. But is this the correct way to guide French drivers? I’m not sure…
In the capital, if “anti-vehicles” don’t hide your joy with these restrictions (gas prices, for example), for most French people, the toilet is full. The drops have been accumulating and even overflowing for some time now, but everyone has no choice but to take the hit to keep going to work and taking their kids to school.
More than speed and parking controls, it is the automobile sector as a whole that is in a more than delicate period, affected by numerous crises (covid, war in Ukraine, price of gasoline, shortage of semiconductors), evidenced by the numbers of new car sales in recent months (even though they started to rise again last August).
Difficult to predict the turn of the next events, the 30-cent discount on fuel calms tensions for now, but what will happen in the next few years? The summer was sunny, the holidays relaxing, but reality gallops back with the start of the school year. Let’s hope we don’t find ourselves too quickly in the fog… Remember that the government talks about the possibility of reducing speed to 110 km/h on the motorway, that from 1 November the fuel discount will be reduced and that the New car prices continue to rise.
Information that shouldn’t really reassure the millions of French drivers…