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21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Pac Bell (SBC) Park - San Francisco, CA

Types of TDM: Transit service improvements, information and incentives, and parking management
Keywords: Special events, multi-jurisdictional coordination, transportation management plan, neighborhood impacts, parking pricing
Area Demographics: Professional sports stadium in rehabilitated warehouse district proximate to regional commuter rail and light rail service. PacBell Park (now SBC Park) is situated in South or Market district adjacent to San Francisco Bay.
Program: Transportation Management Program (TMP) was a required by City. Ballpark Transportation Coordinating Committee appointed to develop TMP among stakeholders.
Results: Achieve objective of 50% of fans arriving by non-auto modes. Parking lots never full to capacity.
Cost of Program: $1.5 million spent on transportation facility improvements and information campaign.
Contact: Gerald Robbins, City and County of San Francisco Planning Department


A New Downtown Ballpark for the SF Giants
Pacific Bell Park, the San Francisco Giants 41,000-seat “downtown ballpark,” opened in March 2000. The ballpark is located alongside San Francisco Bay, approximately one mile (1.6 km) south of the center of downtown San Francisco. The ballpark is located in the South of Market Area (SOMA) of San Francisco, a former warehouse district that in recent years has become a popular location for new technology firms and high-density residential development. The ballpark site is relatively small and is bounded by water on two sides. Unlike most sports stadia, PacBell park and its parking lots were constructed almost entirely with private funds. As a result, very little funding (about $1.5 million) was available for off-site transportation improvements, such as improved roadway, transit or pedestrian facilities. However, the Giants promoted the downtown site, in part, because of its proximity to regional transit and existing commuter-oriented parking supply. Additionally, the ballpark planners also hoped that many downtown workers would walk or ride bicycles to PacBell park on weekdays. Traffic concerns included the fact that weekday afternoon ball games would be over within close proximity to the start of the evening rush hour.

TMP Required by City
Due in part to concerns of local residents and businesses about traffic congestion, particularly for weekday afternoon games, the City and County of San Francisco required a Transportation Management Plan (TMP) be developed and approved to assure efficient transportation operations and minimal impacts to the surrounding neighborhoods. A Ballpark Transportation Coordinating Committee (BTCC) was appointed to develop the TMP and garner buy-in from affected parties. One key objective of the TMP was to maximize the use of non-auto modes by baseball fans, particularly public transit.

The TMP included the promotion of existing and new transit services:

• Caltrain commuter rail service terminus adjacent to the ballpark.
• A new LRT line from Caltrain to BART Embarcadero station.
• Nearby BART regional rail under Market Street.
• New ferry service to the adjacent China Basin Ferry Terminal.
• Various SF Muni bus lines and regional bus service to the Transbay Terminal.

The Giants and regional transportation agencies educated fans on the potential traffic and parking problems and the range of convenient and affordable transit options.

PacBell has 5,000 dedicated parking spaces in lots located across Mission Creek. New residential area parking restrictions were imposed and several streets and lanes closed during games (including access routes to the parking lots and regional transit service).

Finally, a set of transit promotional activities and incentives were part of a comprehensive marketing campaign called “Your Ticket Home” and were funded by the Giants, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, and several corporate sponsors. The campaign was designed to entice first time user to try transit and included the following components:

• A pocket-size pocket information guide for fans and all season ticket holders.
• A transit information hotline answered by the regional ridesharing organization.
• The opportunity to purchase transit tickets by mail (resulting in over $100,000 in advanced fares purchases).
• An incentive program that rewarded Giants fans points toward their fan appreciation program for purchasing transit tickets.
• Promotion of the Your Ticket Home campaign on Bay Area trains and buses serving the ballpark.
• The deployment of “Transit Ambassadors” to answer questions and guide new riders through transfers and fare collection particulars.

Half of Giants fans arrived by non-auto modes and parking lots were never full to capacity due to the effectiveness of the TMP.

Better than Expected Results
The primary measures of success were the proportion of fans arriving by transit and the severity of traffic and parking congestion. During the first year in PacBell Park (renamed SBC Park in 2004), the ballpark and its TMP achieved a 50% non-auto mode split and the dedicated parking lots never reached capacity.

Part of the evaluation of the TMP’s effectiveness was a comparison of the first year operation of PacBell Park with 3Com (formerly Candlestick Park). Some key comparisons are provided below and bear witness to the success of the TMP:


What do the Giants and City of San Francisco attribute the high transit usage and lack of parking and severe traffic problems? First, pre-opening public information not only educated fans as to the lack of parking and congested downtown streets, but one the range of affordable transit options. Pre-paid transit ticket opportunities and a high proportion of advance payment season ticket holders provided fans with ample time to plan their trip to the ballpark and reduce spur of the moment travel (more commonly made by car). A significant percentage of fans at weekday (32%) and weeknight (28%) games came to the ballpark directly from work.

The high level of transit use at PacBell can be attributed to the following factors: 1) availability of reliable, efficient, and affordable mass transit; 2) commitment to quality transit service by regional providers and the Giants made possible by predictable ridership; 3) high parking costs and limited availability; 4) close proximity to a large downtown population base; a well developed and executed transportation management plan; and 5) public expectations as to the severity of traffic and parking problems.


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