PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The jury is still out on those new parking machines, but everyone agrees there’s a learning curve.

“It just took a little while to get used to putting my license plate in every time,” Alan Dervin, of Swissvale, said.

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“I had one of the meter people tell me if you put in one wrong letter we can give you a ticket,” added Ted Nethling, of the South Hills.

Melissa Travis did get a ticket when she transposed two letters from her license plate.

“There’s no way to correct it except for coming down here. So, I paid to park again to fight the ticket,” Travis said.

But even though she had the receipt proving that she paid to park at that allotted time and place, the magistrate at parking court refused to dismiss or even reduce her ticket.

Travis: “So, I paid the $20.”

KDKA’s Andy Sheehan: “Is this justice?”

Travis: “No, it’s not, and something needs to be done about these parking meter. People are paying this because they don’t, you know, they’ve heard these stories. They don’t come down here and fight it because you’re not going to win. This is a cash cow for the city. They’re going to make a fortune.

KDKA found that Travis is not alone.

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Other people have complained to KDKA and have posted on Internet complaint boards that magistrates have refused to toss out their tickets despite documentation like Travis’s.

Sheehan: “Shouldn’t that ticket be tossed?”

Pittsburgh Parking Authority Executive Director Dave Onorato: “I would agree with that, yes.”

But Onorato says it’s up to the magistrate’s, not his, discretion.

“I would believe if you have a receipt showing you paid and it’s documented that’s the time you were parked there, I believe you should be dismissed; but that is the magistrate’s call in court,” he said.

Onorato says he will now meet with the magistrates to discuss this; but in the meantime, he says the Authority now has new software that is able to credit people who are off a number or a digit.

“It drastically reducing the number of tickets issued for that reason, but it’s not yet 100 percent fool proof,” Onorato added.

So now, even if you enter a bad license plate number, you may not get a ticket. But if you do get one, there’s no guarantee that the parking court judge will toss it.

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