SFpark has released new comprehensive stats collected during its two-year pilot program phase, documenting the numerous benefits that it garnered by pricing parking according to demand. SFpark is being watched closely by cities around the world, since it’s the first program to thoroughly test demand-based parking pricing principles first professed by UCLA’s Donald Shoup. But the SFMTA hasn’t yet adopted one of Shoup’s key recommended strategies: Giving some of the revenue to local community benefit districts to help win support for parking meters.
In the areas where SFpark was tested — Civic Center, the Embarcadero, Downtown, the Mission, the Fillmore, the Marina, and Fisherman’s Wharf – the SFMTA found that SFpark resulted in cheaper parking prices overall, more readily available parking, many fewer parking citations, and much less time wasted by drivers circling around, looking for open parking spots:
- Average on-street meter rates dropped by $0.11 per hour, or 4 percent;
- Average garage rates dropped by $0.42 per hour, or 12 percent;
- Target occupancy of 60-80 percent was met 31 percent more often;
- Blocks were full (i.e., no available parking) 16 percent less often;
- Average time spent searching for parking decreased by 5 minutes, or 43 percent;
- Meter-related citations decreased by 23 percent; and
- Vehicle miles traveled, and greenhouse gas emissions from cars circling for parking, decreased by 30 percent.
SFpark has been widely lauded wherever it has replaced existing, flat-rate parking meters, but it’s a different story when it comes to expanding parking meters to new areas. Due to fierce neighborhood resistance, the agency abandoned its plans to install SFpark meters in Potrero Hill and Dogpatch, and watered down and delayed its plans in the northeast Mission. In each of these areas, street parking is mostly free and nearly saturated, with drivers circling for an average of 27 minutes during weekdays in the northeast Mission.
Sharing some meter revenue with neighborhoods could help debunk the prevailing assertion that parking meters are just a revenue ploy for Muni. But the SFMTA has never seriously considered the idea because, as then-SFMTA CEO Nat Ford put it to Streetsblog in 2010, “Our financial situation is so dire that I need to get every penny that we have.”
But the SFMTA’s current chief, Ed Reiskin, told Streetsblog yesterday that “it’s something we’re going to look at.”