SF Meters Go High Tech

The hope is to be able to kiss parking frustration in the City good-bye

By Lori Preuitt
|  Thursday, Apr 21, 2011  |  Updated 12:56 PM PDT
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SF Meters Go High Tech

Scott Weber

New technology should have drivers find open parking spots and a new way to feed the meter.

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The headache of finding a parking space in San Francisco is one of the reasons people tend to not want to venture into the City no matter how wonderful the options. San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Commissioner Tom Nolan said circling for parking accounts for approximately 30 percent of the City's congestion.

But a new high-tech system provides real-time information on parking availability and rates to anyone who wants to log on or download the free app.

The system collects and distributes real-time information through something called ITS, which includes sensors and a data feed in real time.  If you choose to park on the street, you will now have longer time limits and an easy way to pay.

For example, on Thursday morning at 12:15 p.m. the app said that only seven spaces were available at the Mission Bartlett Garage in the City's Mission District. The fee to park was $2 an hour. The website showed that same data.

This is a pilot program funded in part by the Federal Highway Administration.

Federal Highway Administrator Greg Nadeau said the technology will save drivers time, fuel and frustration. "SFpark will help reduce congestion and emissions from idling cars because drivers will know exactly where to go to find parking spaces," Nadeau said.

Right now the system is plugged in to 6,000 meters, which is one-quarter of the City’s total. It also taps into about a dozen garages and parking lots.

The list does not include anything around AT&T Park, but does include the Civic Center, Hayes Valley, the Financial District, SoMa, the Mission, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Fillmore and the Marina.

New longer time limits are part of the SFpark project. Studies shows when longer time limits are used in conjunction with smarter pricing, average parking times do not increase significantly. Extended time limits simply allow some people to park longer if they want to.

Officials note all regular SFpark meters with gray tops in the pilot areas will be affected by the new time limits. Those with colorful tops will stick with the current time limits. Officials say just check the display and do what it says.
 

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