Coin & Card Parking Meters

km123's picture

Have you heard about the new "coin and card" meters?

I think this is a great example of how the city can use technology to be more effective and more efficient. I really hope to see these throughout the city soon.

Opponents to the new parking meters might claim that it will encourage more people to drive, when they really should be utilizing public transportation. Not true. The folks who already take public transit will continue to do so, and yet the meters will make life a bit more convenient for those who need to drive.

San Franciscans need to stop criticizing little things, and praise the city for using technology to make our lives a little bit easier - for us AND for them!

bobbyh's picture

Parking management

Finally.  In a City like San Francisco that is a global leader in high-tech innovation and adoption, it's about time we use technology to manage one of the most annoying issues of living/working in this fine city.  Everything in today's world is being driven by data and technology, so why not parking, which is the quintessential demand-based system.  When demand is high, people who are willing to pay more for parking will, and those that don't want to or cannot afford to, will not.  Seems like a much more fair and efficient system that charges each person up to their willingness to pay.  And the best part is that you can track real-time parking availability online with signs directing you to open spots.  Let's be honest, how many times have you circled round and round looking for parking, wasting gas money and causing more carbon emissions, totally unnecessarily.  Too often.

And I don't think the worst aspect of parking here is really the cost, because the reality is that this is a big city and its expensive to park in a big city.  The issues are more about being able to plan ahead for parking, find it in a timely manner and when you do, not having to carry a bag full of quarters to fill the meter.  Happy to see the city on the road (pun intended) to better managing a long standing issue for residents and businesses alike. Let's hope this kind of data driven solution spreads to other parts of city government.

Zaquex's picture

Smart Decision

Frankly, it was never a matter of if they were going to install parking meters around the city, but when. By planning ahead of time, SF can better manage and utilize its space. It doesn't just stop there, consider the fluctuating rates according to demand. The lower prices at off-hours could help local businesses while people from out of town (who probably take public transit) are forced to shop at the times they are in the city. Unfortunately, the contrary can be said for locals wishing to drive their car to events because it could deter locals from coming unless the event is worthy enough. (I imagine even without local San Franciscans, parking spaces with still be jam-packed.)

ewoo's picture

re: devil is in the details

Moving away from a punitive, citation-oriented system would be great in theory, but it might hurt SFMTA in the long run (since revenue now is so heavily derived from citations), creating another deficit crisis.

My intuition is that making it easy to (over)pay will earn the city enough money to offset the corresponding reduction in citations.

Then again, the city has clearly invested quite a bit of money into giving citations (e.g. lots of metermaids) and making it relatively easy to pay fines (online, via credit card). Perhaps the main issue is just getting our money's worth out of all of the parking citation infrastructure the city has built.

Does anyone know what kind of "yield" the city gets on parking tickets, i.e. how many parking fines are never paid?

bobbyh's picture

Are citations a goal?!

I find this discussion interesting in that people, as is our local government, are debating the revenue generated from citations and weighing that against the creation of a functioning parking system that serves people.  I understand that we have to think about revenue, especially in these tough times, but I just can't bring myself to give any consideration from lost revenue from citations because of the principal behind it, and I wish that City Hall would look at it the same way.

Let's remember, a government is there to serve the people. If by creating a functioning, clear and efficient parking system means that citation revenue is decreased--GREAT!  This means that the system is working!  Do we want people to be confused so they get more tickets?  Do we want to prohibit them from paying adequately so that they get tickets?  Should we apply these principles to other parts of government?  I.e. create confusing and inefficient government programs so that people run afoul of the system and will have to pay fines and citations.  That's madness. 

It scary that we don't expect more from government and its okay for a new parking system to be discounted because people won't get slammed with parking tickets as much. If we want our government to serve us and to progressively work to be better, we need to change the discussion and remember what goals we are trying to accomplish here. 

DonRoss's picture

Typical SF Fashion

So I go to park at the new meters with my SF Parking Card, and see a sticker that says, "Use your SF Parking Card" under it read, "Your SF Parking Card will work soon." What the hell do you install all these new meters, if you can't use of the more basic functions of it? SF always has false starts to things.  And by the way, too bad if we lose revenue because of these cards. It shouldn't be crime to own or drive a car in the City and very often if feels like it. Unless of course you want to illegally park your car for days without moving it, or have a truck with graffiti on it, then your ok and won't be ticketed?

How crazy is it to think by working with technology that we're jeopardizing a source of revenue. We should want to make it easier to gain more revenue from the meter and less from citations.

jt's picture

parking meters in bay area

San Francisco is a global city.  We get millions of visitors each year.  But the city only speaks in one language, uses it's own systems and programs.  I would love to see SF coordinate with Global Cities, or at the least coordinate with the rest of the bay area.  I think the Clipper Card is pretty great, you can use it on transportation throughout the bay area, yay! I guess the decision on parking meters is already complete, but what if we had used the same systems as other global cities or at least the same as other bay area cities? That way, when visitors come, and when locals go from city to city, they don't have to figure out how things work? In Oakland/Berkeley, you can use your credit card for parking. In SF you have to buy a little card or find coins. Visitors would likely not know where to go buy these cards, so the city makes it difficult to visit. I guess the point is to use public transport, but why not a card, like clipper, that a visitor or bay area resident can use for everything? Parking meters, parking lots, MUNI, BART, CalTrain, Ferry's? And make them easily available.  And maybe Bay Area residents could get a little break on the price? OH, and maybe we could use languages other than English. Tourism in SF is HUGE, let's cater a little to our guests.


And, good job with Clipper, I like it.

Janet's picture

The meter should be able to

The meter should be able to add minutes from the card at 15 minutes interval automatically as long as there are money in the card.  Otherwise, it is a waste of technology.  Then again, the meter maid will not be able to meet their daily quota if everyone starts to use it .

Zaquex's picture

Automatic Additions?

The problem with automatic additions is: If one uses a parking space for 46 minutes, then the machine will automatically pay for 14 minutes that weren't used. We should not be limited by a meter maid's daily quota. If the system was perfected, we should not have to hire meter maids on city money.

The problem could easily be address by using credit cards. One swipe as you leave your card, and another swipe as you return to your card to pay for the exact time used. The first swipe would turn the expired sign of a meter off, and register the card number. This prevents anyone from leaving without paying. The second swipe would allow users to pay and turn turn the meter back to "expired."

Additionally, we would have less meters and house one or two main meters on each street for every block or two. These new meter would be more like Oakland/Berkeley as previously mentioned, and be able to handle credit cards to cash and coin.

ConnorO'Gara's picture

Continuity would be a start

It would we nice if the City would STOP with trial programs and pick a standard!  Between Russian hill and the Bay Bridge there are several different styles of meter collection--Standard old coin operated, The green Box (which takes meters for a row of parking spots) and now this.   I'm not sure why we can't pick one standard and move on.  Its confusing enough for residents, let alone tourists, and it seems like its designed to create customer confusion.

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137