Citywide Parking Meter Replacement

Project Introduction

Beginning in March 2022 and continuing on a rolling basis through mid-2025, the SFMTA will replace all the parking meters in the City. The SFMTA is undertaking this project because the current parking meters have reached the end of their useful lives and because many rely on 3G communications technology, which the wireless companies will soon phase out.

The new parking meters will provide several benefits for customers and the City:

  • Larger and more legible screens
  • Multilingual instruction screens (Simplified Chinese, English, and Spanish)
  • More intuitive user interface
  • More resistant to vandalism
  • More powerful batteries, so meters will remain operational for a much higher percentage of the time

Approximately half the parking meters in the City will be upgraded to new single-space parking meters. The other half, including the following neighborhoods, will get multi-space pay stations with a new pay-by-license-plate parking system:

  • Castro
  • South Beach
  • SoMa
  • Mission
  • Mission Bay
  • Civic Center
  • Hayes Valley
  • Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Telegraph Hill
  • Chinatown
  • North Beach
  • Financial District
  • Union Square
  • Showplace Square

New single-space parking meters

Half of the neighborhoods in the City will continue to have a meter at each space, using the current pay-by-space system. Simply pay at the meter assigned to the space where you parked using your phone, card, SFMTA parking card, or cash.

The replacement of the single-space meters is a relatively quick process: the old meter heads are replaced with new ones. The Meter Shop will ensure that newly installed meters are paid for the maximum time allowed on the installation day.

Introducing the pay-by-plate parking system and new pay stations

At the other half of the parking meters in the City, the current pay-by-space system will be replaced with new pay stations and a pay-by-license-plate system. Here’s how it works:

  • Instead of entering your space number to pay for parking, you will enter your license plate number.
  • When you pull into a parking space, head to the nearest pay station on the block, or reach for your smartphone to use the PayByPhone app, key in your license plate number, and pay.
  • Since the PayByPhone app stores your license plate number, you won’t have to remember or type it in whenever using the app.
  • New overhead signage and decals on the pay stations will inform you that the pay-by-plate system is in effect.

Installations of pay stations and removal of the single-space meters will proceed as follows:

  1. New pay stations installed
  2. New pay stations activated
  3. Bags placed over the single-space meters directing customers to the pay stations
  4. Single-space meter and the pole removed, or meter head removed and the pole capped, depending on signage needs and other logistical considerations

Temporary signs placed on the block will remind customers about the new pay-by-plate system.

This new system comes with many benefits:

  • Pay-by-plate gives you the option to pay at any pay station, even across the street or on another block. Key in the zone number for the block where you parked--zone numbers for each block appear on overhead signs and the front and back of each pay station.
  • If you pay for parking but drive away before your paid time expires, you may return to the same block and park without having to pay again, as long as you are within the originally paid time.
  • It also streamlines enforcement, giving parking control officers more time to focus on safety issues like double-parking and neighborhood concerns like residential permit parking enforcement.

Successful pilots of the new pay-by-plate system

The SFMTA tested the pay-by-plate system in several neighborhoods to make it as effective as possible before rolling it out to half the City. Here’s a blog post about the pilot in the Dogpatch neighborhood from 2021.

How to pay

To learn more about how to pay for parking at a meter, please visit the SFMTA parking website.

Contact Information
Kenya Wheeler