San Francisco: Parking Meter Tells You When It’s Available image

San Francisco is installing state-of-the-art ‘smart’ parking meters that will alert drivers to available meters via a smartphone app, which also lets folks add time to their meter from anywhere in the city. The WSJ’s Ben Worthen explains.

With a goal date of the end of March, the project will effectively move San Francisco away from the coin-only meters which hamper drivers’ parking abilities and deter visitors to downtown areas. The state-of-the-art meters will enable residents and tourists to navigate the city more easily while allowing the city administration to monitor traffic flow.
The new meters and pay stations are programmed to send signals from multiple spots to the SFMTA in real time so the agency can better grasp the traffic patterns of the city.
The long-term goal is to continuously adjust rates up or down to keep 15 percent of spaces in a neighborhood free, says Nathaniel Ford, executive director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. San Francisco also hopes the meters will help reduce emissions from drivers circling in search of spaces.


Perhaps the most exciting part of the installation, at least to people who get excited about parking meters, is that customers will be able to pay with credit cards at all the new meters in addition to coins and SFMTA parking cards.
San Fran joins two other North American cities in the smart parking movement. In both Niagara Falls and Vancouver, city officials installed new parking meters that accept payment via cell phone in 2007.