Motorists Save With Efficient Parking Pricing

Contrary to many motorists' fears, San Francisco's demand-based parking pricing has reduced overall average hourly rates and ticket citations.
December 19, 2012, 8am PST | Todd Litman
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When San Francisco first installed its SFpark meters — devices that would increase hourly parking rates based on demand — many motorists complained that it was one more way to gouge drivers for extra dollars. In fact, the program has done the exact opposite, reports Will Reisman.

"Since taking effect in April 2011, average hourly rates have dropped by 14 cents from $2.73 to $2.59 at the 7,000 SFpark meters. Overall, 17 percent of those meters offer hourly rates of $1 or less — prices that are significantly cheaper than the ones offered at the 22,000 older meters. And 6 percent of SFpark meters go for as cheap as 25 cents an hour, according to data from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees parking policies in The City. The drop in prices for on-street parking meters coincides with a 20 percent rate decrease in SFMTA-run garages.

"Donald Shoup, a UCLA professor whose theories on parking were instrumental in developing the SFpark program, said he expected prices at meters to rise in the first year, given the demand for spaces in San Francisco. He said the drop in meter rates is proof that the agency is concerned about responsible parking management and not price-gouging policies. 'I don’t understand how anyone can keep parroting that this is a money grab,' Shoup said."

"Because the SFpark meters provide more payment options for motorists, ticket citations have decreased," adds Reisman.

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Published on Sunday, December 16, 2012 in San Francisco Examiner
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