In planning for a demand-responsive pricing based parking management system, involve executive leadership, seek strong intellectual foundations, strike the right balance between complexity and simplicity, and emphasize data collection and project evaluation.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s experience in implementing advanced parking management (Interim Results).

August 2011
San Francisco; California; United States

Background (Show)

Lesson Learned

The SFpark pilot project of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) uses a demand-based approach to adjusting parking rates at metered parking spaces in the SFpark pilot areas and at SFpark garages. SFpark’s combination of time-of-day demand-responsive pricing and off-peak discounts at garages is expected to reduce circling and double-parking, as well as influence when and how people choose to travel. Lessons learned from the project planning aspect of the SFpark pilot project are presented below.
  • Do not underestimate the scope of work. It is easy to underestimate the scope, magnitude, and technological sophistication necessary to offer real-time parking data and provide demand responsive pricing. Agencies should develop the scope carefully incorporating expectations as well as challenges.
  • Involve executive leadership. Many challenges accompanied planning and implementing a ground-breaking project with complex technology, significant policy changes, and a large amount of discovery and uncertainty. The support of a dedicated executive at the agency was critical, as was having appropriate financial resources.
  • Understand the parking supply. Starting with the maxim that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure,” the SFMTA collected comprehensive data about San Francisco’s publicly available parking supply, both on and off-street, including existing parking regulations. Enabled by data, understanding the existing parking supply characteristics was a critical first step in the planning and implementation of the SFpark pilot project and will be just as important for its evaluation.
  • Seek strong and coherent intellectual foundations. SFpark parking management approach was based on the pioneering academic work of Professor Donald Shoup from University of California, Los Angeles. Those foundations made it easier to develop policies, goals, and tools that were easily communicated and understood by our customers. An academic advisory team offered early guidance and support for the design of SFpark demonstration and how it could offer valuable data for evaluation of outcome.
  • Strike the right balance between complexity and simplicity. SFpark had to balance the potential complexity of managing parking effectively with the need to have something simple enough to be communicated clearly and quickly to customers. It had to strike a similar technological balance between what is desirable and what is feasible.
  • Emphasize data collection and project evaluation. As a federally funded demonstration of a new approach to managing parking, the SFpark project is collecting an unprecedented data set to enable a thorough evaluation of its effectiveness. This improved the project’s credibility among stakeholders.
The SFpark experience emphasizes the need for adequate planning when a demand-responsive pricing based parking management system is considered for implementation. Cities around the world are interested in the common and urgent goals of reducing traffic congestion and transportation related greenhouse gas emissions. To the extent that SFpark successfully manages parking supply and demand, rates, and reduces congestion and emissions, the project is relevant to other cities as well because it is easily replicable. SFpark is expected to improve traffic flow, reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, increase safety for all road users, and enhance quality of life.

Lesson Comments

No comments posted to date

Comment on this Lesson

To comment on this lesson, fill in the information below and click on submit. An asterisk (*) indicates a required field. Your name and email address, if provided, will not be posted, but are to contact you, if needed to clarify your comments.


SFpark: Putting Theory Into Practice - Post-launch implementation summary and Lessons learned

Published By: San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

Source Date: August 2011

URL: http://sfpark.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/sfpark_aug2011projsummary_web-2.pdf

Other Lessons From this Source

Lesson Contacts

Lesson Analyst:

Firoz Kabir


Average User Rating

0 ( ratings)

Rate this Lesson

(click stars to rate)

Lesson ID: 2012-00621