San Francisco to get $87M for easier parking, other projects

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The U.S. Department of Transportation on Monday, Oct. 20, announced a final decision to provide San Francisco with $87 million to launch an innovative parking plan that will bring next-generation technology and rush-hour pricing to last-century parking meters, support ferry service and rehabilitate the city’s Doyle Drive.

“This plan will make parking more convenient, reduce emissions and ease traffic jams,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters says. “This city is showing the nation how a little technology and a lot of innovation can make a big dent in traffic, smog and commuter frustration.”

Peters says $27 million of the federal funding will support the city’s SFpark initiative, aimed at easing parking congestion on city streets through variable pricing. The new high-tech meters will charge drivers different prices to park – more during peak times, less during off peak – to keep traffic flowing and guarantee parking will be available. Peters says $13 million also will be made available to support ferry service in the Bay Area.

San Francisco also will receive $47 million in federal public lands funding to rehabilitate Doyle Drive, the heavily-traveled road that connects the Golden Gate Bridge and downtown. Peters says San Francisco’s original proposal to DOT included a plan to deploy congestion pricing on Doyle Drive, but the city later withdrew that portion of its proposal.

The new parking meter technology ultimately will allow drivers to find a parking spot by checking variable message signs, by phoning a 511 service or via the Internet, Peters says. Instead of relying on quarters, drivers will be able to pay with their credit, debit or Smart Trip cards, and eventually will be able to text in a payment using their cell phones, she says.

Peters also applauded Bay Area leaders for their willingness to try new ways to help commuters and the environment. She noted a 2006 citywide survey found that more than half of all drivers take more than five minutes to find parking, resulting in a gallon of wasted gas for every 10 cars looking for parking at a given time.

The funding for San Francisco’s parking initiative and ferry service is provided through DOT’s Urban Partnership Program, aimed at finding new, innovative ways to fight congestion on America’s roads.