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UPA/CRD Annual Report
San Francisco SFpark and Parking Information Systems

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Cover graphic shows a view of a street in San Francisco with a kiosk for making a payment to park.
San Francisco – Picture Courtesy of SFMTA


  • San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA)
  • Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC)
  • San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA)


SFpark is a demonstration of a new approach to parking management that will evaluate the effectiveness of demand-responsive pricing and real-time information on parking availability for reducing congestion and greenhouse gas emissions and provide other benefits. SFMTA is deploying and operating the SFpark system, MTC is enhancing its 511 system to provide real-time parking information, and SFCTA is supporting the initiative through outreach.

San Francisco SFpark and Parking Information Systems



  • SFTMA: Parking Pricing
    • Finished installation of parking sensors, meters, and garage equipment
    • Collected "before" data
    • Preparing for marketing launch and first price change in early 2011
  • SFMTA: Real-time Information
    • Finished installation of necessary equipment to provide real-time information about where parking is available at metered on-street parking spaces as well as parking garages
    • Completed infrastructure for sharing data via a public data feed in XML/SOAP and JSN/REST formats
    • Coordinating with 511, the region's traveler information service, to display parking data
  • MTC: Parking Information via 511 Phone and Web
    • Conducted user focus groups to evaluate interest in parking information
    • Completed system requirements for data collection and data dissemination
    • Completed a parking master database for storage of parking static data
    • Completed a Java message service data exchange process and documentation for receipt of dynamic data between 511 parking and partner parking vendors
    • Began development of the detailed design for the 511 phone and parking interfaces
  • SFCTA: Outreach
    • SFCTA developed plans with the City of San Francisco's Department of Environment (DOE) to support SFpark and the 511 enhancements by promotion at outreach events. Through DOE's existing program of alternate commute outreach to San Francisco employers, marketing material will be distributed in 2011 to inform downtown workers about the UPA initiatives so they can better use the parking and information resources available to them.

Non-technical Support Activities

  • Marketing
    • Continued extensive outreach on SFpark to community groups and political leaders
    • Invested in development of website, including a 3-minute overview animation to help explain how the system works
    • Planned a marketing and advertising campaign to accompany 2011 launch and pricing changes
  • Legislative authority
    • Legislative authority to proceed obtained in 2008


A timeline is shown for the period extending from 2007 through 2012 with milestones or accomplishments indicated. Approvals and Planning fall in the time period leading up to and into the year 2008. Funding is established in mid-2008. Pilot Project Implementation extends from 2009 into the first quarter of 2011, which is marked by the first pricing change. Pilot Project Evaluation extends from the last quarter of 2010 through the second quarter of 2012. Parking Data become available after the first quarter of 2011. City-wide implementation extends from the second quarter of 2012 out.

Independent Evaluation

  • The National Evaluation Plan was completed in Dec. 2009. All detailed test plans for data collection were drafted and are in final revision.
  • Baseline data collection underway. Post-deployment data collection will begin with launch of SFpark in 2011 through early 2012.


Lessons Learned

Primary challenges for the SFpark project have included contracting for new technology and communicating effectively about the sensitive subject of parking management and pricing. To address the latter, SFMTA staff have had hundreds of meetings with key stakeholders and groups to ensure that community leaders understand the purpose and benefits of this approach to parking management and is now following up with more broad communications strategies.

MTC conducted focus groups early in the project to better understand potential demand for parking information. Findings indicated a strong interest in availability and pricing information, and the ability for users to access real-time information for routine trips, but also plan parking for out-of-the-ordinary trips. A primary challenge of the 511 project has been to design appropriate dissemination features to meet users' needs within the available resources. To address this challenge, MTC is focusing on providing the most value to the user, while identifying potential enhancements to implement at a later time. Another challenge of the project has been to develop a regional parking system for the future incorporation of additional parking vendors. MTC continues to have discussions with SFMTA regarding the most efficient and effective way for SFpark data to be communicated to 511, while still adhering to regional specifications.

SFpark Pilot and Control Zones. A grid map of city streets from the Port of San Francisco to the north and Monterey Boulevard to the south shows project boundaries in the Mission District, the Civic Center, Fillmore, Marina, Downtown, South Embarcadero, Fisherman's Wharf, and Port of San Francisco areas. A parking control area is highlighted in the Inner Richmond area and the Union area.
SFpark Pilot and Control Zones
Source: San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, used with permission


In early 2011, SFMTA will formally launch the SFpark pilot projects, including both real-time data about parking availability and demand-responsive pricing. The SFMTA also intends to expand the geographic scope of the pilot projects (i.e., expanding the existing pilot areas and adding new ones) and continue with data collection efforts to facilitate evaluation.

MTC will complete the detailed design and development processes for the 511 phone and parking interfaces. MTC will also begin receiving real-time and static data from SFpark in advance of a mid-2011 launch of 511's dissemination features. In support of the SFpark and 511 enhancements, SFCTA will begin outreach in conjunction with San Francisco Department of Environment (DOE), which conducts events with downtown employers and workers to promote alternate commute programs.

For Further Information

SFpark website:

MTC511 website:

San Francisco UPA Contacts:
Jay Primus
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
SFpark Manager

Jim Macrae
Senior Program Coordinator

Chester Fung
Senior Transportation Planner

Allen Greenberg
U.S. Department of Transportation

DOT Logo, U.S. Department of Transportaion


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