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San Francisco Tests New Meters that Set Fee by Supply and Demand

'sf park' parking meter rendering
Drivers in the gloriously progressive city of San Francisco may soon have a lot less trouble finding curb-side real estate, thanks to a high-tech parking system that the city has just begun testing. The San Francisco Metro Transit Authority's SFpark project is a two-year, federally funded endeavor, aimed at making city parking less stressful, and more efficient. As part of the project, the SFMTA has already begun replacing old parking meters with new "coin and card" meters that let users pay with credit cards. As PSFK reports, the new meters will also be equipped with sensors that can instantly measure the current demand for parking space on a given block. The price of a space, then, will be automatically calibrated according to demand, although, as the SFMTA promises, a price will never rise by more than 50 cents at a time. The SFMTA has also apparently taken a page from Google's 'Open Spot' book, by allowing especially anxious drivers to check parking availability and prices on their smartphones or computers, before even leaving the house.

Ultimately, the effectiveness of the program will depend on how quickly the sensors can measure demand, and, more importantly, on whether or not the price fluctuations are enough of an incentive to change consumer behavior. Will a 25-cent price differential, for example, be enough for a random commuter to park farther away from her office? If it means she wouldn't have to spend 15 minutes driving around like a vulture, then she might take the bait. Others, though, might be more finicky about their parking preferences. Either way, it seems like it'll take some time for road warriors to warm up to the program, and for the SFMTA to find a pricing system enticing enough to lure them in. [From: SFPark; via: PSFK]

Tags: demand, parking, ParkingMeter, price, PriceDrop, prices, SanFrancisco, sfmta, SFpark, supply, SupplyAndDemand, top