For those of you still grumbling over the city’s ill-conceived scheme to charge for the privilege of parking at LRT lots, finally there is a reason to take heart.

The Calgary Parking Authority, the fine folks who have perfected the art of drive-by ticketing, are on pace to make a killing this year.

Sure, it may have been a low blow for already-struggling commuters to eat a daily $3 parking fee on top of ever-rising transit fares, but at least there’s a silver lining for somebody.

As Metro reported last week, since the new parking fees began to roll out in mid-March, the parking authority has issued 1,300 tickets at $40 a pop.

With council’s belatedly sensible move to eliminate the charge on evenings and weekends, that means parking cops have to date doled out 13 tickets every weekday in those lots to those who decided to take their chances and not pay.

Impressive, considering all 33 lots weren’t up and charging until the end of May.

Of course that doesn’t include the bonanza of ticket opportunities for those who risk parking in nearby residential areas with parking restrictions.

Indeed, the CPA is on track for a banner year in 2009, reportedly on pace to issue some 60,000 tickets, a 40 per cent spike from the number handed out just one year earlier.

Hardly a surprise when transit officials admitted last month that park and ride lots that were once packed with happy C-Train users have dropped to as low as 45 per cent capacity on the northeast line and 60 per cent in the south.

Ald. Andre Chabot has long been among the vocal minority on council who has fought against the fee since it was proposed during last fall’s budget deliberations and he sees a link between lower revenue projections from Calgary Transit and a spike in the number of tickets.

“It seems since they started imposing those parking fees they’ve been quite proactive at ticketing folks who are not complying with the requirements,” he said.

“They’re not getting full utilization and they’re finding a way to get additional revenue to make up for it.”

Chabot acknowledged the fee is here to stay, but noted perhaps there should be more focus on encouraging people to use transit and less on punishing those who skirt the parking fees.

“If you want to encourage participation in a program, going after its users doesn’t seem right,” he said.

But it is profitable.