The Big Supply & Demand parking experiment.
The SF Park-ing project in San Francisco is turning the on-street parking paradigm on its head with the introduction of simple price adjustments by 'supply and demand'.
'So what?' I hear you say. This has been the realm of the off-street parking paradigm for decades. Why is introducing it into the on-street paradigm so news worthy? The reason it is so important is that the on-street parking area has been the playground of the politician for years. The parking professional has held sway in off-street car park buildings but the politician has known better in the on-street area.
This experiment in San Francisco is the parking expert finally getting enough trust from the politicians that they wont lose enough votes to worry them and they will balance any loss with the better goodwill created by a city street that will be able to operate well under normal demand and supply conditions.
If this experiment doesn't work, this methodology will die a very public death and it will never be spoken of again for many years until people forget about SF Park and someone tries again. This will be a disaster as the politicians will quickly try to wrest control back from the parking professionals again ..... and business as usual.
In SF Park we are starting to see the emergence of high technology, spread to even the furthest reaches of the parking realm, the individual car park bay. This technology is now starting to support the parking professional in their assertions, as they are now getting the objective data to prove what many have thought by experience and observation, but could never get a budget big enough to prove.
I suspect that this project will give us some very encouraging results, enough for other cities to start to utilise the depth and breadth of technology out there now, to benefit a better understanding of the parking environment. Before long there will be plenty of evidence out there to build a business case for even the trickiest of cityscapes.
This experiment will be seen not just as the triumph of parking professionals over politicians, but the start of the triumph of objectivity over subjectivity. That is more important.