Pricing Parking at a Premium

On Tuesday, San Francisco's MUNI approved a pilot program to price 6,000 of the city's parking spots according to popularity.

"(W)hile the worst locales will go cheaply - as little as a quarter - a handful of premium parking spots will be worth $18 an hour, or nearly a pound of quarters.

Other cities have dabbled in such pricing, but Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., executive director of the transportation agency, said San Francisco's plan - due to start in the spring with the aid of new meters, sensors and $18.4 million in federal financing - would place the city at the forefront of parking technology. Mr. Ford cited the various benefits it would reap, including reducing congestion and carbon emissions from circling cars and ensuring pedestrians are not sideswiped by parking-obsessed drivers.

'It's an exciting time,' said Mr. Ford, who also pointed to advances in payment technology, including the ability to buy parking time with a cellphone."

Full Story: A Costly City Tries Pricing Its Parking by Popularity



Commodities Cost Money

Parking is a commodity, just like oil, wheat, corn, etc. It's shouldn't be given away for free. Free parking encourages more automobile usage. Parking has been free for so long that charging for it will not seem ludicrous to some, but I support this plan.

Drivers need to know parking rates

Perhaps the new meters will be able to signal the rates, but if not, there's a problem. The driver needs to know the rate BEFORE entering the space. Otherwise, the driver pulls in without knowing the rate, gets out, discovers the rate, and THEN makes the decision of whether or not to stay in the space. Without clear price signals, consumers can’t make rational decisions.
You may get more “parking-cruising” with the new scenario, as well as more complaints that the system is confusing to customers. The proposal to change rates every 4-6 weeks will mean that drivers will have a hard time knowing parking rates.
It may make more sense to have a compromise system that everyone knows and understands and that can fit on a sign. For example, rates in a given district are $2/hour for 2 hours, $3/hour for the next 2 hours, and $5/hour for any time after that. Special event parking can be different, but only if there is some way to communicate that rate as part of the whole “marking” of a special event area.

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