parking_meters.jpgSome San Francisco parking meters will be getting a facelift today, allowing motorists to pay with credit or debit card.

These changes come under the cities new SF Park program, and will first pop up in Hayes Valley later this afternoon. The meters weren’t just upgraded to keep your pockets clear of handfuls of loose change, though. They’re part of a city run experiment, which hopes to analyze parking habits and eventually make finding a spot not so damn frustrating.

The pilot system, which will be in eight neighborhoods once in full force, is at first glance a little confusing. Some of the 5,100 total spaces will cost much more, some much less. And each month, a spot’s price could change.

Parking spots in prime locations could cost as much as $6 an hour, according to SF Gate. Spots that get passed up frequently, on the other hand, could cost as little as 50 cents an hour. Rates for “special events” parking, could be as much as $18 an hour.

Over the next two years, each spot’s price will be messed with, to see how it affects the desirability of the parking spot. The spot’s activity will be reported to the SFMTA via wireless technology planted in the asphalt. To avoid any major confusion (and preserve driver sanity), a spots price will at most change only once a month, and not by more than 50 cents.

The city hopes these experiments will cut down on traffic caused by people forced to circle the block to find an empty spot, which causes 30% of the city’s traffic says the Ex. The city also expects to make more revenue from these new parking meters, but says they will probably be handing out less parking tickets because time restrictions will be loosened in some areas.

Eventually, electronic signs and reportedly a smart phone app will direct drivers to open spots through out the city. The city also plans on releasing prepaid parking cards to work with the new machines. The project cost $24.75 million, $19.8 million of that being a federal grant.

Neighborhoods affected: Hayes Valley, Financial District, Marina, Fillmore, South of Market, Mission, Civic Center, Fisherman’s Wharf

What do you think? Does the new pay-by-card technology make parking easier? Or will the price fluctuations totally cancel that convenience out?

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  • bloomsm

    It costs about $8 per hour to park in the Embarcadero Center, one of SF’s most expensive garages. Why would anyone pay the same rate to park on a street where your car is more likely to get broken into? The first person who pulls up to a meter and is asked to pay $18 for an hour for a “special” event is going to have a heart attack.

    Another way to ream people for the privilege of living in SF. Time to start hunting for spaces in residential neighborhoods.

    I’m still waiting for someone to figure out how to charge a use tax on the air we breathe.

  • bloomsm

    It costs about $8 per hour to park in the Embarcadero Center, one of SF’s most expensive garages. Why would anyone pay the same rate to park on a street where your car is more likely to get broken into? The first person who pulls up to a meter and is asked to pay $18 for an hour for a “special” event is going to have a heart attack.

    Another way to ream people for the privilege of living in SF. Time to start hunting for spaces in residential neighborhoods.

    I’m still waiting for someone to figure out how to charge a use tax on the air we breathe.

  • Greg Dewar

    The city should not be giving away parking for free. there is nothing in the Constitution that guarnatees you paying 10 cents an hour for parking, and it makes sense for the City to do demand based pricing. The media loves to jump on that 18 dollar figure, when in fact it is very unlikely that will ever happen. It’s more likely that you’ll have prices dip in the middle of the day in areas where people aren’t parking as much, and charge more when demand is high. That’s plain old common sense business, and it’s about time the MTA started charging market rate prices for parking.

  • Greg Dewar

    The city should not be giving away parking for free. there is nothing in the Constitution that guarnatees you paying 10 cents an hour for parking, and it makes sense for the City to do demand based pricing. The media loves to jump on that 18 dollar figure, when in fact it is very unlikely that will ever happen. It’s more likely that you’ll have prices dip in the middle of the day in areas where people aren’t parking as much, and charge more when demand is high. That’s plain old common sense business, and it’s about time the MTA started charging market rate prices for parking.

  • bloomsm

    Last time I checked, “civic parking” wasn’t “free”, and it wasn’t “10 cents an hour” and has not been for years. However, as in all revenue plans, there is a price point at which people are entitled to say “enough” of fees, revenue enhancements and taxes. I am not sure why you characterize the maximum rates ($18) as “very unlikely” (unless you know something that wasn’t published in the media); I’ve lived in the City for 26 years and fees–once raised–never go down.

  • bloomsm

    Last time I checked, “civic parking” wasn’t “free”, and it wasn’t “10 cents an hour” and has not been for years. However, as in all revenue plans, there is a price point at which people are entitled to say “enough” of fees, revenue enhancements and taxes. I am not sure why you characterize the maximum rates ($18) as “very unlikely” (unless you know something that wasn’t published in the media); I’ve lived in the City for 26 years and fees–once raised–never go down.

  • rgm

    Did we ever implement the proposed changes from the MTA (http://is.gd/dNkiu — sorry for linking offsite, SF Appeal, please don’t hurt me!) in terms of extending meter hours and charging on Sundays?

    Hell, I’m all for taking people’s money more efficiently (I never have change, but sure could use my credit card if I need to park somewhere), but that’s not necessarily going to fix street parking.

  • rgm

    Did we ever implement the proposed changes from the MTA (http://is.gd/dNkiu — sorry for linking offsite, SF Appeal, please don’t hurt me!) in terms of extending meter hours and charging on Sundays?

    Hell, I’m all for taking people’s money more efficiently (I never have change, but sure could use my credit card if I need to park somewhere), but that’s not necessarily going to fix street parking.

  • Eve Batey

    Why on earth would we object to links to other news orgs, as that is what we do, many times, in many of our stories? Linking to other sites is a good thing for news organizations to do, not something to apologize for! What an odd notion that we would “hurt” someone for demonstrating an internet best practice!

    ANYWAY. In March, the MTA board asked Ford to come up with a trial Sunday/longer hours plan, perhaps one of the reasons the MTA says they are “Continuing to meet with individuals and organizations to discuss the study findings and recommendations and to seek public input.”

    This after MTA chief Nat Ford promised to include both longer hours and Sunday enforcement in this year’s MTA budget then did not do so, some say at the behest of the Mayor’s office.

  • Eve Batey

    Why on earth would we object to links to other news orgs, as that is what we do, many times, in many of our stories? Linking to other sites is a good thing for news organizations to do, not something to apologize for! What an odd notion that we would “hurt” someone for demonstrating an internet best practice!

    ANYWAY. In March, the MTA board asked Ford to come up with a trial Sunday/longer hours plan, perhaps one of the reasons the MTA says they are “Continuing to meet with individuals and organizations to discuss the study findings and recommendations and to seek public input.”

    This after MTA chief Nat Ford promised to include both longer hours and Sunday enforcement in this year’s MTA budget then did not do so, some say at the behest of the Mayor’s office.

  • Slappy

    “The city hopes these experiments will cut down on traffic caused by people forced to circle the block to find an empty spot, which causes 30% of the city’s traffic says the Ex. ”

    No one is forcing anyone to circle the block, people are choosing to circle the block because they have the foolish notion that they HAVE to park within ‘x’ feet of the entrance to where they are going.

  • Slappy

    “The city hopes these experiments will cut down on traffic caused by people forced to circle the block to find an empty spot, which causes 30% of the city’s traffic says the Ex. ”

    No one is forcing anyone to circle the block, people are choosing to circle the block because they have the foolish notion that they HAVE to park within ‘x’ feet of the entrance to where they are going.