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SFpark reducing congestion by variable parking rates

Challenge

Direct traffic to where there are available parking spaces to ease congestion.

Problem

San Francisco, like many major cities, has a problem with traffic congestion. Around 30% of driving in the city is accounted for just by circling for parking space.

Solution

The City of San Francisco has installed a variable parking charging system called SFpark, mostly funded by the Department of Transportation’s Urban Partnership Program. The system uses wireless sensors and digital parking meters to alert drivers as to where spaces are available, and over time changes parking tariffs (up or down) based on popularity to encourage parking in areas that are quieter. The incremental charge adjustment is programmed to aim for 15% of the spaces on a block to be available at any one time. The goal is to increase parking, not revenue. Drivers can locate available on-street parking spaces using their smart phones, text message or going via the website.

Benefits

Benefits to drivers:
  • Real-time checking of parking spaces and charges that can help decisions on mode of transport
  • Increased payment options
  • Shorter, more efficient journeys with less hassle
  • Fewer parking fines
  • Since the programme started, average hourly rates have dropped by 14 cents from US$2.73 to US$2.59 at the 7,000 SFpark meters, despite a perception it would lead to higher costs for motorists
Benefits to the cities:
  • Safer roads for pedestrians and cyclists from distracted drivers seeking to park
  • Clearer routes for buses and emergency vehicles from reduced congestion and reduction in double parking
  • Increased footfall for businesses with easier parking
  • Reduced pollution
  • Increased meter revenue as more in use (offset by a drop in parking fine revenue)

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