San Francisco's Meter Program Might Actually Cut Gas Costs

parking meter, expired meter, traffic

Photo: Flickr / lakewentworth

Since the summer of 2010, San Francisco’s been testing SFpark, a first-of-its-kind initiative to raise parking meter prices on in-demand blocks and lower them on emptier ones.

According to the Times’ Michael Cooper and Jo Craven McGinty, spots can reach as much as $6 per hour, but typically go for $4.50. 

To gauge demand for meters, organisers have installed sensors at nearly a quarter of the city’s 26,800 metered spaces.

The experiment, which received a federal grant and runs until this summer, seems to be working:

By tweaking prices every two months–rising or falling anywhere from $0.25 to $0.50/hour–the project has helped several blocks meet their targeted occupancy rates in a given month. At the same time, it’s forced 15 of the city’s 20 less-frequently used parking garages to lower their rates, the Times’ reports.

There are still a few kinks to work out, however. Higher prices don’t always deter parkers from clogging up streets, and SFpark has been criticised for not helping to cut down traffic and reduce pollution. Think about it: The less time spent circling the lot looking for a spot, the more gas you’ll conserve. 

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