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Release date: 4/4/11

*** Press Release ***

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which oversees all surface transportation including the Municipal Railway (Muni), today announced that it will begin applying the SFpark approach to setting parking rates at City-owned garages participating in the SFpark project, the SFMTA’s two-year federally funded pilot of new parking management technologies and approaches.

As part of the improved pricing approach, the Agency also announced specific rate changes to be implemented this month at the first two garages to receive new SFpark rates: the Moscone Center and Lombard garages. Along with signage, paint, and lighting upgrades, demand-responsive pricing will make parking in City garages in the SFpark pilot areas more appealing, and make rate setting at garages more transparent. All rate changes will be posted on one week prior to the change. Customers who wish to be notified directly may sign up for an e-mail alert at

“Circling for parking accounts for approximately 30 percent of San Francisco’s congestion,” said Tom Nolan, Chairman of the SFMTA Board of Directors. “SFpark makes parking easier to find and pay for and will reduce double-parking and circling, while reducing congestion, air pollution and delays on Muni.”

“By improving the pricing and customer experience at SFpark garages, the SFMTA expects more drivers to head straight to garages rather than double park or circle for on-street parking,” said Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., Executive Director/CEO. “More importantly it will help those who are parking get to a spot, pay and get on to their destination.”

To attract drivers and to increase the availability of spaces, rates at garages will vary by the time of day and will be adjusted quarterly in response to demand. For the first two SFpark garages to undergo the demand-responsive pricing, hourly rates will decrease or stay the same, depending on time of day, beginning this month. The rate changes were based on evaluation of the occupancy in these garages.

The new pricing policy also introduces off-peak weekday discounts to encourage customers to drive and park when there is less traffic, easing congestion and clearing the streets so that Muni can move faster and more reliably during peak times. The garages that currently have weekday early bird discounts will keep them in addition to the off-peak discount. Both off-peak and early bird discounts, however, will use the same time requirements: arrive before 7:30 a.m. and depart after 7 p.m. Early bird discounts will work the same way they always have, requiring that a driver arrive at the garage before 7:30 a.m. and exit after 7 p.m. in order to receive the early bird rate. Off-peak discounts are designed to be more flexible. Drivers only need to park for three hours to receive the discount and they can combine the discount with validation from local businesses.

On March 30, the SFMTA completed signage, paint and lighting upgrades at the Moscone Center Garage at 255 Third Street. These improvements create a more welcoming garage that is easier and more convenient to use. All participating garages are slated for similar SFpark upgrades in 2011.

The SFpark Project

SFpark combines new parking management technology and approaches to make parking in the City more convenient. This is done using smart demand-responsive pricing and providing drivers improved real-time information about where to find parking both in garages and on-street.

If drivers choose to park on the street, they will have longer time limits and new meters that make it easy to pay. By managing parking so that it is easier to find, drivers will circle and double-park less. This will help to keep streets clear for Muni and emergency vehicles, make roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Parking meter rates will vary based on time of day, and rates will be adjusted over time in response to demand. Rates will be adjusted on a block-by-block basis using the occupancy data provided by the parking sensors that have been installed in metered on-street parking spaces in the SFpark pilot areas. Meter pricing includes:

  • Distinct rate periods: In order to improve parking availability in metered parking spaces, SFpark meters may charge different rates based on the time of day.
  • Rates will respond to demand over time: Starting at traditional rates for parking meters (between $2 and $3.50), rates will decrease or increase by 25 cents no more than once per month.
  • Rates will be adjusted on a block-by-block basis: This will help to redistribute parking demand more effectively within a neighborhood, thereby reaching target rates for parking availability.
  • Special event pricing: Parking rates in areas around special events will range between 25 cents and $18 an hour. Initially, rates will be approximately $5 an hour for special events and will be evaluated later to adjust based on demand.

The new state-of-the-art SFpark meters are easy to use and allow drivers to pay with coins, credit/debit cards, and SFMTA parking cards. Later this year, drivers will also be able to pay parking meters via cell phone.

For complete details regarding SFpark’s garage pricing policy, please visit To learn more about SFpark, please visit

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