San Francisco (and other cities) uses a pay-by-phone parking system for select parking spaces. These spaces have unique numbers and signage every few spaces directing people to call pay-by-phone to pay for parking. (Stanford is studying similar advanced parking systems.) With pay-by-phone, there are three ways for a downtown employee to pay for a workday worth of parking:
1. An automated voice response phone system that can take credit cards and the unique space number.
2. An easier-to-use smartphone app has an account associated with a credit card. Within the app, workers enter the unique space number.
3. Given an account with a credit card in the cloud, users can text their unique space number.
The SF pay-by-phone system coexists with meters and is integrated with the meters, but a PA implementation would not need meters. Parking enforcement in SF is integrated with the pay-by-phone cloud database.
For managing PA downtown spillover parking challenges, a meter-less pay-by-phone worker parking system could be implemented simultaneously with a residential permit program. Because no meters would need to be added, the capital cost for pay-by-phone will be low, just parking space striping/numbering, signage, and a possible upfront payment to a smart parking vendor. By-the-day worker parking charges have a higher trip reduction impact that annual employee permits. Pricing can vary based on the parking zones and by the proximity to downtown and Caltrain, allowing lower-income workers to walk farther to save money.
Pay-by-phone for workers combined with permits for residents allows for a very flexible, responsive system. Rates can be adjusted rapidly to better wrestle with demand.
If permit and pay-by-phone prices are set to an efficient level, then convenient parking spaces are always available. This will reduce "cruising for parking," a phenomenon that generates 30% of local traffic volume in certain situations (according to UCLA parking guru Donald Shoup).
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