San Francisco Aims To Give Parking A Technological Makeover

<p>Variable parking rates and online parking availability are features of a pilot program meant to increase convenience and cut congestion on the road.</p>
April 17, 2008, 12pm PDT | Christian Madera | @cpmadera
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San Francisco hopes a pilot program linking parking spaces in the city with sophisticated metering will help reduce the amount of time drivers spend looking for parking, while unclogging streets and reducing auto emissions.

The project won't increase the parking supply - as the city's long-standing policy is to reduce reliance on cars - but the goal is to cut the time it takes drivers to find parking by micromanaging spaces.

"As SFpark is envisioned, parking rates would be adjusted based on time of day, day of week and duration of stay. People would be able to pay not just with coins, but with credit cards, prepaid debit cards and even by cell phone. If a meter is set to expire, a text message could be sent to the driver. More time could be purchased remotely."

"People also would be able to check parking availability before arriving at their destination via the Internet, handheld devices such as BlackBerrys, or cell phone. Sensors would be embedded in the asphalt to keep track of when a parking spot is empty."

"The technology isn't new, but San Francisco would be the first American city to apply it on such a broad scale. That's one reason federal transportation authorities took an interest and decided to help pay for the experiment." The federal government will be paying $18 million of the project's $23 million budget.

"'The idea is to give people more choice, more convenience and to reduce congestion,' said Mayor Gavin Newsom."

Thanks to Andy J. Wang

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Published on Monday, April 14, 2008 in The San Francisco Chronicle
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