SF Port's parking system pays dividends

Complaints about parking meters that charge different prices depending on the time of day are up, but so is revenue.

Six months into a pilot program for the 97 Port of San Francisco parking meters, revenue is up 38 percent compared with the same time last year, though the agency said there have been some confused motorists.

The new meters for the Port, which operates most of the parking along the waterfront and at Fisherman’s Wharf, charge different rates during different times of the day at different locations. It’s the testing of a parking program called SFpark, which is series of initiatives managed by the Municipal Transportation Agency that will one day be implemented in 6,000 meters across The City.

Prices range from 25 cents an hour to $4 an hour, depending on the time of day. Eventually, the price will also fluctuate based on demand.

The 97 meters, which can handle payments for multiple parking spaces, also accept credit cards and allow for extended visits, with some spaces even available for up to 12 hours.

The Port began installing the meters in May, and by August the technology was rolled out in full, to telling results. Meter revenue for August was $176,042, a 35 percent increase from August 2008. Revenue in September was $172,489, a 38 percent increase from last year. All told, the Port made an extra $92,528 in August and September, the first two months of full implementation.

“We’re certainly seeing good results financially from the new meters,” said Tina Olson, deputy director of finance and administration for the Port.

Unlike regular city meters, the Port’s operate until 11 p.m., seven days a week. Spaces at less popular destinations along the waterfront, such as south of the Bay Bridge, are only $1 an hour, which is a dollar less than the Port’s original rate. However, parking rates soar during special events, such as Giants games, when it costs $4 an hour to stay at a Port meter. Parking is just 25 cents an hour from
7 to 11 p.m.

The program, however, hasn’t been without glitches. Motorists have complained that the meters’ interface is difficult to use, and there have been some complaints that the Port doesn’t provide receipts for motorists who user their credit or debit cards to pay, Olson said.

“We’ve received some feedback from people who said that the meters are a bit confusing to process,” she said. “We’re working with the providers to help make it easier for people to pay their meters. This is part of being in the test phase of new technology.”

Cash injection

The Port of San Francisco instituted a trial in which the prices for parking meters vary depending on the time of day. The first two months of the program has led to an increase in revenue from the same period last year.

                    2008    2009
August          $130,638    $176,042
September    $125,365    $172,489
Total             $256,003    $348,531

Adjusting to adjustable parking prices

The Port of San Francisco has been testing meters that are priced according to the time of day that they are used. The change also has increased revenue.

Location                     7 a.m.–7 p.m.    7 p.m.–11 p.m.
Fisherman’s Wharf    $2.50/hr., 2-hour max.    $0.50/hr., 4-hour max.
Pier 39 to Broadway    $2/hr., 4-hour max.    $0.50/hr., 4-hour max.
Broadway to Bryant    $3/hr., 4-hour max.    $0.50/hr., 4-hour max.
South of Bryant    $1/hr., 12-hour max.    $0.50/hr., 4-hour max.

Source: Port of San Francisco

 

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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