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
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.
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?