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SFMTA Announces ‘Text Before Tow’ Pilot Program

Thursday, January 13, 2022


Today, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) released “Text Before Tow,” a first-of-its-kind program where customers can receive a text message notification prior to having their vehicle towed.

This pilot program, starting on January 12th, 2022, applies to four categories of tows: (1) parking more than 72-hours (2) blocked driveways (3) construction zones and (4) temporary no-parking zones such as special event or moving trucks. These categories represent 27% of all vehicles towed in 2020, approximately 12,500. It is important to note that peak-hour tow-away lanes, hazards, yellow or white zones and all other violations are not included.   

“I’m thrilled to see a program here in San Francisco that prioritizes making life just a little bit easier for all of us. It is rewarding to see not only a technological advancement that is a first of-its-kind, but one that will be a game changer when it comes to curbing the expenses that come with a tow for everyday people,” said SFMTA Director Manny Yekutiel. “It is my ultimate hope that this program also encourages drivers to park more mindfully.”

To enroll a vehicle, customers need to complete a short online form to register their license plate and phone number. When a customer’s vehicle is about to be towed, they will receive a text in which a tow truck will be dispatched at the same time. Note: Vehicles will still receive a citation for the violation from Parking Control Officers (PCO).

“We hate having to tow cars to keep transit moving smoothly,” said Jeffrey Tumlin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. “We can clear the streets more quickly and better serve our customers by simply sending a text so motorists can move their cars.”

This service does not provide the drivers with a “countdown” and as it is dependent on the travel time of the tow truck, which could be as few as five minutes. Once a vehicle is hooked up to a tow truck, the tow cannot be stopped. Should the driver return before the tow truck arrives, the vehicle will not be towed, however a parking violation ticket will still be issued.

Please note that this program is provided as a courtesy only. The SFMTA cannot guarantee the delivery or receipt of text messages. Failure to receive a text message cannot be used as a basis for a refund claim or for the release of a towed vehicle.

For more information or to sign up for this program, please visit