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Release date: Nov. 15, 2011

*** Press Release ***

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which oversees all surface transportation in the City, including the Municipal Railway (Muni), offers tips and tools for safe, convenient holiday shopping—great transit options and parking information—to those planning to visit downtown San Francisco for shopping and entertainment this holiday season. The best way is by transit; the Muni Metro/BART Powell Station is convenient to Union Square and has direct access to the San Francisco Centre. Those who choose to drive have smart parking options aided by the SFMTA’s innovative SFpark program and improvements.

The SFpark program is halfway through installing over 200 street signs that direct drivers to the 15 SFpark garages. All signs will be up by Thanksgiving, just in time for the holiday shopping season. The bright blue “P” signs are already visible in such neighborhoods as the Mission, Japantown and the Financial District.

“Going straight to garages rather than circling or double-parking in search of a metered space will help reduce congestion,” said Tom Nolan, Chairman of the SFMTA Board of Directors. “This makes it possible for Muni to run more efficiently and allows everyone to get to their destination quicker and easier.”

“If you must drive during the busy holiday season, avoid circling the block looking for an open space. Go directly to an SFpark garage, where parking spaces are usually available and hourly rates are often lower than at meters,” said Edward D. Reiskin, Director of Transportation. “SFpark garages are located in the heart of many of the City’s neighborhoods and in the downtown shopping districts.”

The SFMTA encourages holiday shoppers to go straight to SFpark garages rather than circle for parking on streets filled with traffic and pedestrians. Finding a parking space quickly will help alleviate holiday shopping traffic woes.

Benefits of the SFpark garages include:

  • Many hourly rates have dropped due to demand-responsive pricing, often below on-street meter rates.
  • SFpark garages charge in 30-minute increments instead of one hour.
  • SFpark garages almost always have space available, even when on-street parking is taken.
  • All SFpark garages have the same clear and easy-to-understand rate structure.
  • Unlike meters, garages have no time limits.
  • Customers can find locations, rates and parking space availability for SFpark garages on, iPhone and Andriod apps or by texting “SFpark” to 877877.

The busiest days to shop at Union Square are (in order):

  • Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving
  • Fridays and Saturdays between Thanksgiving and Christmas
  • Christmas Eve and December 26.

Least crowded days of the week to shop at Union Square between Thanksgiving and Christmas: Sundays and Mondays.

For more holiday shopping tips, please visit For more information on SFpark garages, please visit

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