‘Surge Pricing’ Coming to S.F. Parking Meters

Parking prices could vary between $1.25 to $8 per hour at different meters, under a program to begin next month.

The Uber-style practice of surge pricing is coming to San Francisco parking meters in January 2018. Parking meters at busier parking spaces will cost more to park in, after the San Francisco Municipal Transit  Agency (SFMTA) approved surge pricing for S.F. parking meters at their Tuesday Board of Directors meeting.

The San Francisco Examiner reports that parking space costs dipped to $1.25 an hour when a  pilot of this program was tested in 2011. On the other hand, certain parking spaces could get as expensive as $8 an hour according NBC Bay Area. Prices may differ block by block, or at certain times of day.

Those high-demand spaces would not become $8 an hour spaces overnight. “This is a very slow process,” SFMTA planner Hank Wilson told the board Tuesday. Prices can only go up or down by 25 cents during three-month intervals, so those high-value spaces would take years to hit the $8 threshold.

San Francisco already has different rates for different parking meters depending on how much traffic the neighborhood has. But those rates are pretty much written in stone right now, whereas prices could change every three months under the new system. The SFMTA insists that drivers would somehow receive notification of any pending price increases.

The 2011 pilot program, which the Examiner reports tested out demand-based pricing at 7,000 parking meters downtown and in Civic Center, the Fillmore, Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Marina, actually led to an overall decrease in price for most spaces.

“Average rates went down by 11 cents an hour on the street and in our garages by 42 cents an hour,” Wilson said. “What that showed is this isn’t about raising rates, it’s about finding the right price.”

With the board’s unanimous OK, the plan is set to begin in 2018 and does not need any other City Hall approval. The demand-based pricing will begin “starting in mid-January,” according to SF Bay News.


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