SFpark Evaluation Shows Parking Easier, Cheaper in Pilot Areas
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which oversees the Municipal Railway (Muni) and all surface transportation in the city, today announced the results of the federally-funded SFpark project, which used better information and demand-responsive pricing to improve parking management in some of San Francisco’s busiest commercial neighborhoods.
After a thorough evaluation, SFMTA data shows that the SFpark pilot project succeeded in meeting its goals. The program’s in-depth evaluation, which compares pilot areas against designated control areas (where no policy or technology changes were made), shows that SFpark delivered the following benefits in the pilot areas:
- Average on-street meter rates dropped by $0.11 per hour, or 4 percent;
- Average garage rates dropped by $0.42 per hour, or 12 percent;
- Target occupancy of 60-80 percent was met 31 percent more often;
- Blocks were full (i.e., no available parking) 16 percent less often;
- Average time spent searching for parking decreased by 5 minutes, or 43 percent;
- Meter-related citations decreased by 23 percent; and
- Vehicle miles travelled and greenhouse gas emissions from cars circling for parking decreased by 30 percent.
“By making it easier to park and easier to pay, we have significantly reduced parking tickets and improved the experience for people who visit, live in, or work in some of San Francisco’s busiest commercial neighborhoods,” said Edward D. Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. “San Francisco’s population and economy grew over the last three years and even as more and more people came to the city, we were able to reduce circling for parking and make the streets safer for everyone.”
After the pilot, demand-responsive pricing will continue in the existing SFpark areas. Later this year the SFMTA will use the results of the SFpark evaluation to develop a proposal for expanding the SFpark approach to the SFMTA’s other meters, lots, and garages in the city.
Launched in April 2011, the SFpark pilot was a demonstration project funded through the Department of Transportation’s Urban Partnership Program. For the SFpark pilot project, the SFMTA used several strategies to make it easier to find a space and improve the parking experience. Strategies included:
- Demand-responsive pricing;
- Adding credit and debit card-enabled meters as well as pay by phone to make it easier to pay for parking;
- Longer time limits at meters;
- Real-time information about on- and off-street parking availability; and
- Static wayfinding signs to garages.
Donald Shoup, professor of Urban Planning at UCLA and renowned parking expert said: “SFpark has made parking in San Francisco cheaper, quicker, and fairer. These results will show other cities around the world how to improve transportation and the environment.”
The pilot focused on seven pilot neighborhoods in the city: Downtown, South Embarcadero, Civic Center, Mission, Fillmore, Marina, and Fisherman’s Wharf. These areas include more than 6,000 parking meters (about one-quarter of the city’s total) and about 12,250 spaces in SFMTA-administered garages.
In addition to publishing the full SFpark evaluation document and a companion summary evaluation brochure for the internationally acclaimed SFpark program, the SFMTA has also written a 150-page overview of SFpark and lessons learned, and will soon offer a separate technical “how to” manual for information technology staff in other cities to help save them time and money for similar projects.
SFpark is a true first in the world demonstration of a comprehensive suite of smart parking management strategies, and this documentation is meant to help not just San Francisco but also cities around the world learn from, and improve upon, the city’s experience.