June 12 2013

SFPark Program Puts Parking Theory to the Test

What’s the longest it’s ever taken you to find parking in an urban environment like San Francisco? If you’ve ever driven in the city, you’re probably familiar with the frustrating (and dangerous) experience of circling city blocks to find an open space. You’re not alone. In 2007, Donald Shoup, professor of urban planning at UCLA, estimated that 30% of traffic in cities is due to people cruising the streets for curbside parking.

In 2011, San Francisco put Shoup’s theory to the test through SFpark, a $23 million program using new technology to implement a form of congestion pricing for curbside parking.  The underlying idea is to increase/decrease parking until demand decreases to the current parking supply

SFPark Parking Meter San Francisco

Although many motorists complained at the start of the program that SFpark was simply a way to wrestle more money out of drivers, 2 years of data have proven the opposite.

In 2012, average hourly rates dropped 14 cents at the 7,000 SFpark meters. In fact, 17% of those meters offered hourly rates of $1 or less, which is significantly cheaper than san Francisco’s 22,000 older meters. Ticket citations have also decreased due to the availability of more payment options. Supporters of SFpark use this to show that the program is about responsible parking management, not to make money.

SFPark Parking Meter Rate Adjustments San Francisco

Since then, the pricing of parking in these pilot neighborhoods has stabilized at these lower average hourly rates. This implies that the pricing of parking has helped match the demand for parking with parking supply. This should mean less cruising for parking, less congestion, and safer streets for all.

What do you think about SFpark? Do you know of any other congestion pricing programs, specifically focusing on parking? How do they compare with SFpark?

Credits: Images courtesy of The iMagazine and Transbay Blog. Data linked to sources.

Steven Chang

Steven Chang was a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area and held a B.A. in Urban Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. His interest in urban planning began in his hometown of Rowland Heights, California (near Los Angeles), when he noticed that his community, a predominantly ethnic suburb, was very different from other cities he had traveled to. He was very interested in every aspect of urban planning, especially in the way people influence and are influenced by the city fabric. He hoped to one day pursue a Masters of Urban Planning, focusing on economic development and housing. He was also very excited to bring the bustling activity of the San Francisco Bay Area to The Grid!

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 at 9:11 am and is filed under Blogging Team, Technology, Transportation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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