Residents of quite a few Canadian municipalities can pay parking tickets online. But Ottawa residents now have the option of paying speeding tickets online too, and a good many of them are, well, racing to take advantage of it.

For a little over a year, the capital city has offered the ability to pay tickets issued under Ontario’s Provincial Offences Act, which covers tickets for such infractions as speeding, driving without insurance, trespassing and violating liquor license regulations. Most of the payments made through the system have been for speeding tickets, said Ken Hughes, Ottawa’s manager of revenue.

Hughes said he is surprised at the response to the system – 16 per cent of eligible tickets are now being paid online. That’s “far higher than I thought it would be,” said Hughes, and “it hasn’t leveled off yet.”

Ottawans have two other options for paying speeding tickets – they can pay in person at traffic court, or they can mail cheques. Showing up at traffic court during business hours is inconvenient for many people, including those from out of town, and Hughes said he figures many people who would have paid by cheque in the past are growing used to being able to pay online.

Ottawa is promoting the system with signs in the traffic court, notices on its Web site and information on the back of tickets, Hughes said. When there are lineups in traffic court, he said, people who didn’t know they could pay online are leaving the lineups and heading for their PCs.

Ottawa offers electrical and water bills to residents online, and has accepted electronic payments for parking tickets this way for several years. The province, which previously collected all fines for provincial offences itself, only recently began allowing municipalities to take over that function, explained Greg O’Brien, senior account executive at Teranet Enterprises Inc., which co-developed the system Ottawa is using.

Hughes said a different company provides the system Ottawa uses to collect parking fines online, but the Paytickets.ca system developed by Teranet and RBC Global Services – part of the RBC Financial Group – is the only system currently available for provincial fines. Since the city banks with the Royal Bank, which also provides its electronic bill presentment services, it was a logical fit.

Violators can make their payments through the Web site. The system interfaces with the province’s Integrated Court Offence Notification (ICON) system to ensure payments are properly recorded. At the end of each day, the city receives a report and fine revenues are deposited to its account, O’Brien said.

RBC Global and Teranet designed the system jointly and RBC is actively marketing it to its public-sector banking customers and others, said Craig Parker, senior manager of receivables products at RBC Global.

The partners initially developed a system for collecting parking fines online, which is used in a number of municipalities, mainly in Ontario, Parker said. They then moved on to add the provincial offences capability, which so far is only available to Ontario municipalities. 

Hughes said the city benefits by reducing the staff time taken to process fine payments. Since city council authorized the city police to devote more resources to traffic enforcement the number of tickets issued has increased, he said, but the city has not had to increase staff levels in proportion.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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