High tech parking meters to be unveiled in SF

July 27, 2010 8:24:52 PM PDT
Tuesday marked the beginning of the end of parking as it's commonly known in San Francisco. A pilot program for congestion management pricing got underway.

There are 190 parking spaces in Hayes Valley that got new meters Tuesday morning. It's the latest step on the path to congestion management pricing.

"Rather than looking at toll booths and things of that nature, we thought it would be a more elegant solution to look at where the cars are going," says SFMTA CEO Nathaniel Ford.

Right now the main difference is the ability to pay with credit and debit cards in addition to coins.

But over the next two years about 5,000 more new meters, along with sensors on the street, will gather data about parking patterns where and when spaces are most in demand and where they're not. That will result in new pricing.

The SFMTA thinks the range will end up being from 50 cents an hour to $6 an hour. Right now $3.50 is the max.

The idea is to make parking more expensive where it's in demand, cheaper where it's not, aiming for 15 percent availability on any given street.

Getting cars off the street faster will reduce congestion and carbon emissions.

San Francisco resident Jerry Odhams was asked if he would simply avoid parking where it was $6 an hour.

"I would probably wouldn't. I would probably take a few more moments to travel somewhere else that would make it cheaper," says Odhams.

Early next year, motorists will be able to see where parking is available ahead of time.

"They will have real time information either through 511, through our SFPark.org or maybe through a smart phone to receive information as to where parking is available in the city," says Ford.

Over the next three months, the pilot program meters will be installed in seven more neighborhoods including the Financial District, Civic Center, SoMa, Mission, Fisherman's Warf, Marina and the Fillmore.

$20 million of the $25 million program is coming from the federal government.


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