The City of San Francisco has launched an ambitious project seeking to ease the pain of finding a parking spot while cleaning up the city’s air and tidying its streets. SFPark project, which Mayor Edwin Lee unveiled last week, will allow drivers to use a web or iPhone app to find available parking spaces throughout the city in realtime:
SFPark uses sensors in parking spots to detect when they’re occupied. Using the SFPark website or iPhone app, citizens can see where there are free spaces, and how much they’ll cost, right now. Then, beginning this summer, the city will actually start changing the price of parking spaces based on demand. Rates will change as often as once a month, dropping to as little as $.25 per hour in places where demand is low and rising to as much as $6.00 per hour on the most congested city blocks.
The system is has been implemented, for the time being, in eight pilot neighborhoods. In addition to these features, pilot neighborhoods’ parking spaces will have a Pay-by-Phone convenience service added:
When launched later this year, the Pay-by-Phone service will enable drivers to pay by credit card instead of coins by using any phone or via the Internet. Customers parking in San Francisco will also enjoy the ease and convenience of receiving a text message reminder before their meter expires, adding time to their meter remotely (subject to time limit restrictions) and receiving their meter receipts online.
The city government hopes that these measures will lead to a quick reduction in the traffic congestion caused by drivers circling looking for spots and double parking when they cannot find one. Less traffic would of course usher in cleaner skies and clearer paths for the city’s Muni system. The ultimate hope here is that as parking prices rise to market rates topping $6/hour, more San Fransicans will be deterred from driving, and will feel confident that hopping on the public transportation—with its newly more efficient, less congested routes—is the better way to commute. However, a couple humorous critiques from local SF media outlets have questioned whether the system might detract from a larger national campaign to get drivers off their cell phones while on the road.