It is not easy being a last mile carrier; last mile is the last step of the delivery process when a parcel is moved from a hub near a consumer to its final destination. In addition to pressure to deliver on time, the driver shortage, and accidents, carriers face surprisingly high traffic, toll road, and parking fines. If they are not quick enough in paying these fines, their delivery vehicles may be booted or even towed.
Megan Broccoli, who is the CEO and founder of Voi, is able to document the incredible hassle and administrative burden associated with these kinds of fines because her company works to help carriers solve these problems. Voi connects with agencies directly to monitor for citations in real time. The Voi solution is integrated to over 700 agencies that issue fines across all the major metropolitan areas in the US. As a result, the company can view the kinds of fines carriers pay, and how these fines and the enforcement differs by city.
“On average,” Ms. Broccoli explained, “logistics companies face 7 to 10 timers more citations than a person in a car faces. A normal person can park downtown New Yor City, for example, overrun the meter and very likely not get fined.” The odds of being fined, are much worse for the carriers. In Los Angeles, there are ten officers whose full-time job is to issue tickets to UPS and FedEx. In part, this is because municipalities know they are far more likely to be paid by carriers than by individuals.
A fleet of ten trucks could expect $7-10,000 is citations. That might not sound like that much, particularly since dealing with these fines is a line item in carrier’s budgets. But Ms. Broccoli points out, “there are fleets of 5,000 vans across the country. For large fleets, these numbers get really large.”
Some cities, like New York City (NYC), have both tight enforcement – many citations – and higher fines. The fines in New York, for example, average $70. In Miami it is closer to $40.
If a city feels a company is not paying their tickets in a timely manner, they will boot or tow the vehicle. In Philadelphia for example, three unpaid tickets can lead to a vehicle being booted or towed away. In New York City the threshold is five unpaid tickets. Many cities expect to be paid within 30 days of a fine being issued, in some cities carriers only have 21 days.
These kinds of fees are even more costly. The boot fee in NYC is $136, the tow fee is $185, and the storage fee for every day the vehicle is not picked up is $20. Further, fines must be paid in person, in cash. This is logistically difficult for large firms with centralized accounting offices. Finally, these booted or towed vehicles are not available for use and the firm’s payback on vehicle purchases is adversely affected by low utilization rates.
Paying fines in a timely manner may not sound that difficult, but there can be time lags in learning about the fines. If a shopper goes into a store and comes out and has not put enough money in the parking meter, they will see a paper fine that has been slipped under one of their wipers. But if a van stops in a No Parking Space and the driver jumps out to deliver a package, while that package is being delivered a traffic officer may be in the process of writing up the ticket. There is a good chance the officer has not yet had a chance to attach the fine to the vehicle before the van pulls away.
Further, not all fines are immediately apparent. Toll roads, bridges, and tunnels are confusing and hard to navigate. Not all toll roads require transponders, but toll lanes do. A driver going through a toll lane without a transponder is deemed to be a toll evader. Cameras record these incidents. Cameras are also used to take pictures of vehicles running a light, making an improper turn, or coming too close to a school bus. These fines are mailed to the vehicle owner.
But for a national company, a fine might be sent to a local office. That fine then must be forwarded to the national office where a centralized department pays the fines. That takes time. And the US Postal Service has performed poorly in recent years. In short, a firm with the best intentions can be assessed late payment fees or have their vehicles booted or towed.
Fortunately for carriers, because Voi can find the citations virtually at the time they are issued, carriers can act quickly, avoid costly late fees and other negative impacts like booting, impounding, and registration holds. Voi, according to Ms. Broccoli, is the only company that can put this citation data from that is gathered from across the nation in one place. And they are the only solution provider with near real-time visibility to the fines.
Ms. Broccoli is an interesting young entrepreneur. She founded the company in 2019 when she was 29 years old. Her business degree did not come from MIT or Stanford, but from Florida Atlantic University. She attended this university because she lived in Florida and had a son at the age of 21. “I always had a deep-seated need to create something,” Ms. Broccoli told me. The business degree did not provide the blueprint to form a successful company. “But, I worked hard and figured it out. I learned by doing and by having to do it. Failure meant not supporting my son. She wears a backpack that has a small banner on it that reads ‘failure is not an option.’