As the word says it, “demand-responsive pricing” means that the pricing responds to demand. By adjusting prices of its parking meters to match demand, San Francisco wants to encourage drivers to park in underutilized areas (lower pricing) and dissuaded to stay parked for long in busier areas (higher pricing).
This pricing approach is meant to help open up parking spots in busy areas and at busy times.
Well actually, this is not new and has been in place since 2011 in some areas. As part of a federally-funded pilot called SFpark, the SFMTA implemented demand-responsive pricing for over six years at 7,000 San Francisco parking meters (as well as 15 SFMTA-managed parking lots and garages). These meters are in pilot areas in the Mission, Civic Center, Fillmore, the Marina, Fisherman’s Wharf, Embarcadero, FiDi, most of SoMa and Mission Bay.
The experimentation was a success and resulted apparently in lowering parking rates. SFMTA’s board approved expanding demand-responsive pricing to 28,000 parking meters and to all SFMTA metered surface parking lots.
The new pricing is in place for all meters since March 2018.
San Francisco parking meter hourly prices could go up or down gradually, or even stay the same. The rate adjustments happen once every three months and have a gradual increment of $0.25/hour. The maximum hourly price that can be reached is $8/hour.
According to SFMTA, over the six-year pilot project, not one parking meter has reached the cap of $8/hour, even in high-demand areas like FiDi and Fisherman’s Wharf. Only a minuscule fraction (0.04%) of parking meters ever reached $7/hour. On the contrary, average parking meter rates were reduced by 4% (down $0.11/hour). City-owned garage rates went down by 12% (down $0.42/hour.)
SFMTA is meant to make available a website with real-time information in 2018.
SpotAngels already has access to real-time pricing of San Francisco parking meters thanks to SFMTA open data. The SpotAngels app currently shows real-time pricing for all parking meters. In addition. you’ll get to see open spots when another driver from the community leaves their spot, compare prices of meters and garages and get reminders to move your car before getting a ticket. The app is free and available on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.