Shoupistas eat Crow? Early Returns say Dynamic Pricing not Working in SF.

According to this article, the first reports in the massive demand pricing parking test are in in San Francisco, and it seems that the hiking of pricing hasn’t made much of a difference in the demand in certain areas. From the article:

SFPark is an innovative, federally-supported performance parking pilot program. But it will adjust meter rates in its seven pilot areas this month—the third adjustment since the program’s launch in 2010.

Each time San Francisco has adjusted the rates, the spread between the least expensive and the most expensive blocks has increased. After this latest adjustment, parking rates will vary from a low of $0.75 up to $4.25/hr. To date, the most crowded blocks have typically continued to be crowded even after adjusting the prices upward, while under-occupied blocks have not filled up even after dropping the price.

So, popular parking spaces aren’t as price sensitive as first thought. I wonder if in tony San Francisco many people will simply pay more for convenience. $4.75 may simply not be enough.  If parkers aren’t price sensitive at $4.75 maybe the number is $10 or even $20 an hour.  Sometimes you just have to get their attention.

If the folks at SF Park are in the experimenting mood, perhaps they should take some of those most crowded blocks and hit em with a high number. Who knows, we may be finding out that parking pricing has been way too low all along.

Its too early to pass judgement on market based pricing on street just yet. Public officials don’t have the intestinal fortitude to charge what the traffic will bear. However when they see the revenue numbers, they may just jump right on board the profit train. The Free Market Rules.


PS  These are credit card accepting parking meters. Folks using credit cards don’t have the issue with quarters and the like. They often just accept the total amount and go about their business. I wonder what would happen if there was a sign that said “Parking $7.00 an hour” on the block. Then would people think twice before they parked or drive a block where it said “Parking $.75 and hour.” Once you are there, out of the car, door locked, and standing in front of the meter, perhaps you just don’t want to waste the time and effort to move and maybe you don’t realize that you can save $6.25 by walking 1200 feet.  A two cent swing in the price of gas as posted on those huge signs at filling stations can make people turn one way rather than an other. Might work the same for on street parking.

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2 Responses to Shoupistas eat Crow? Early Returns say Dynamic Pricing not Working in SF.

  1. Brandy Stanley says:

    So is the $4.25 more expensive than off-street options in the same area?

    How is SF park doing at communicating the rates where prices are high and low to the locals and frequent parkers?

    Are these areas high tourist/transient areas? I’ve learned these groups are NOT price sensitive in any way, shape or form.

  2. Keith says:

    There is an old truism about people coming downtown for shopping, dinner, theater or an event and NOT for parking. Still true.

    As for the high demand areas, one reason folks are not price sensitive is they may not be aware of the alternatives so they take the first vacant space.

    I thought SF Park was feeding real time parking availability to folks with the right app on their smart phones. Are those parkers getting only space information, or are they getting price information as well.

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