SF Park is a success, failure, neither, both???


SF Park is a success, failure, neither, both???

The following letter is circulating from the SFMTA, the Parent of SF Park. I post it in its entirety.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), the agency that manages transportation in the city, established the SFpark pilot, using new technology and policies to improve parking in San Francisco. The pilot aims to reduce traffic by helping drivers find parking spaces more quickly. More parking availability makes streets less congested and safer. Improved parking meters that accept credit and debit cards and phone payment reduce frustration and parking citations.

The SFMTA and the U.S. Department of Transportation are both now preparing to evaluate the pilot using data collected during the pilot project. As the pilot phase comes to a close in 2014, the project will continue to operate and any major changes will be considered after evaluation is completed in Spring 2014. In the meantime, there will be some changes to the SFpark mobile app and the data feed that some other private parking mobile apps also use.

As of January 1st, 2014, the parking sensors in the street will be turned off and their data feed will no longer be available as parking sensor batteries have reached the end of their useful lives. This means that the real-time information on parking space occupancy will not be available for mobile apps and similar uses. The SFpark data feed and app will continue to show meter parking rates, as well as real-time space availability and rates at parking garages. The SFMTA will continue to conduct demand-responsive rate changes to find the lowest rates possible to help ensure there is a minimum number of open parking spaces on each block to reduce circling and double-parking.

It was my understanding that the sensors were an integral part of the entire system. That is, the goal of showing drivers, through their smart phones, where available on street parking is located, was important, and the data that the sensors collected was an integral part of the ability of the city to adjust parking rates based on the Shoup model.

All of this was so reduce the number of vehicles cruising for spaces thus saving the planet from CO, and as a adjunct at least pay for itself.

We have known for some months that the agreement with the vendor that supplied the sensors was coming to an end. That has now come true.

One industry wag observed:

The very issue I labor ( when VDT raised )is the absence if a commercial rationale to support what is a considerable investment (somewhere north of $25 million). If the investment isn’t saving time, saaving money or making money, it’s not an investment. This “boloney” around saving commuting time and CO2 is nebulous at best.

My guess is that after the beginning of the new year, we will never see a report on the viability of the system and that SFPark will go silently into that dark night.

After all, who wants to be the one to sign a report that a system was installed for a huge amount of money, and then the major part of the system, parking guidance and the ability to adjust rates using technology, was simply turned off because it was what? Too Expensive? Didn’t really work? The data was unavailable? The batteries were dead?  Or as the head of SFPark once said, that “the technology was challenging.”

Is it really.  Many cities around the country and around the world use the technology in various forms to good success. Why not San Francisco?



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John Van Horn

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