By Josh Cohen.
On Tuesday, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) board voted to expand its demand-based parking price program citywide to every meter and city-owned lot and garage.
With this system, meter rates go up or down based on demand, which encourages faster turnover on overly crowded (more expensive) blocks and increased use of underutilized parking (where the fee is cheaper). According to the MTA, San Francisco is the first in the U.S. to implement such a program citywide.
Meter pricing is currently a minimum of 50 cents per hour and a maximum of $8 per hour. Rates are set block by block and rates change throughout the day to reflect peak hours and off hours. Beginning in January 2018, the city will start adjusting those rates every three months. If a block is consistently at 80 percent or more occupancy, the hourly rate will go up 25 cents. If it’s at 60 to 80 percent occupancy, the rate will stay the same. Below 60 percent, the price drops by 25 cents.
“The goal of this project is really to get people into parking spaces as fast as possible,” Hank Willson, MTA parking policy manager, said at Tuesday’s board meeting. Doing so, he explained, will help reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions by decreasing the amount of circling people are doing while looking for spots. According to Willson, the system will also make parking pricing more transparent and even help drive traffic to businesses.