If you plan on heading to the city (San Francisco) in the middle of a busy weekend, especially during the holidays, expect to pay more at certain busy parking meters.

While everyone hates to pay for parking, finding no parking spots at all can be equally as frustrating if not moreso. But according to NBC Bay Area news on their report on San Francisco’s solution to ease your parking woes they dropped earlier yesterday (Nov. 30, 2017) there might be some relief in sight but some people will definitely be upset about it. It’s called demand-based pricing and like how UBER charges passengers more during periods of high-demand, parking meters will employ a similar strategy when you come to park at different times a day.

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Pricing at meters right now is fixed around $2-3 an hour with some meters charging even more (again, based on location.) With demand-based pricing, prices may drop to as low as 50 cents during some hours but shoot up to $8 an hour if it’s a particularly busy location like Fisherman’s Wharf or in and around Chinatown on a Saturday afternoon.

The logic being that people, seeing the higher pricing, won’t park there at all or seek somewhere else to park, freeing up some space for someone willing to pay a higher price.

Parking garages, being private property, will always be a viable solution no matter what time of day.

According to San Francisco parking officials, in places where this strategy was implemented, one or two parking spots where always open in those locations.

“It’s just not surge pricing,” said Tom Maguire, of the SFMTA. “This is a transparent gradual decrease or increase in the parking rate depending on how many people want to come park. There is almost always a space available on the blocks where we have tried this policy.”

In addition, with fixed pricing on high-demand areas, some people who once were able to afford a whole four hours of allowed parking, now can probably only afford half or a quarter of the time, freeing up the parking for someone else. For businesses, the high turnaround would benefit sales due to more people coming by their shops.

A part of me does feel like this won’t totally cure parking congestion woes for San Francisco. There are just too many people, including tourists, coming to visit particular locations and will suffer the prices at parking meters to enjoy a once in a lifetime trip.

But like all public experiments, this pricing strategy will be open to scrutiny from anyone and everyone. If it’s causing more harm then good, best believe you’ll hear about it from parkers.


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