U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters Participates
in First Demonstration of New Anti-Congestion Parking Technology
Above (left to right): Nathaniel P. Ford, Sr., Executive
Director, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency,
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters and MTC Executive
Director Steve Heminger toured the SFgo command center.
Above (left to right): Caltrans District 4 Director and
MTC Commissioner Bijan Sartipi, Peters, Heminger
Photos by Noah Berger
SAN FRANCISCO, October
16, 2007… During
a visit to San Francisco today, U.S. Secretary
of Transportation Mary E. Peters got a first-hand
look at prototypes of new high-tech parking
meters coming soon to sidewalks
in neighborhoods where the competition
for parking is among the toughest in the city.
San Francisco's "Smart Parking" initiative,
which combines the new meters with sensors
embedded in the pavement of parking spaces,
will allow motorists to search select blocks
for available parking spaces via PDAs or the
Internet. Parking rates will vary according
to demand and motorists will be able to pay
with cash, credit cards, smart cards such
as the TransLink® regional
transit-fare card sponsored by MTC, or even
via a text message from a cell phone. Flanked
by local officials such as MTC Executive Director
Steve Heminger, San Francisco Municipal Transportation
Agency Executive Director Nathaniel P. Ford,
Sr. and San Francisco County Transportation
Authority Executive Director Jose Luis Moscovich,
Secretary Peters lauded the Smart Parking plan
model for other cities to apply 21st Century
technologies to combat congestion and reduce
air pollution caused by vehicles circling city
blocks in the quest for parking. Smart Parking,
along with San Francisco's SFgo real-time traffic
management and operations, and a proposal to
implement variable-rate tolling on Doyle Drive,
are among the cornerstones of the San Francisco
Bay Area Accelerate proposal rewarded earlier
this summer by the Department of Transportation
with a $158.7 million grant through the DOT's
Remarks by U.S. Secretary
of Transportation Mary E. Peters, San Francisco,
October 16, 2007
Good morning. I am glad to be here with my good friend
and Executive Director of the Metropolitan Transportation
Commission, Steve Heminger, and Municipal Transportation
Authority Executive Director Nat Ford. And I would like
to thank Mayor Newsom and his staff for their support
As you know, in August, the Department of Transportation
awarded $158.7 million through our Urban Partnership
competition to help the Bay Area implement a comprehensive
traffic-fighting plan, known as San Francisco’s
Bay Area Accelerate. And a key part of that plan is
to rethink our policies on how we charge for parking.
Meter technology has remained unchanged since the 1920s,
when vehicle travel was a relatively new activity in
American life. Back then, the early parking meter concept
was not too much different from “parking” during
the turn of the last century, when travelers would tie
up at a hitching post and throw a coin to the stable
But, today, I am here to announce that these old meters
are about to become traffic fighting machines. These
meters will charge drivers different prices to park – more
during peak times, less during off peak – so we
can keep traffic flowing and guaranteed parking will
be available. Frustration ebbs and traffic flows.
And because of the technology, drivers soon will be
able to find a parking spot while surfing the web, or
lock in on a place to park from miles away using PDA
devices. These meters will make it easier to find a
parking space than it is to find a cup of coffee.
This new technology is coming soon to busy, traffic-clogged
San Francisco. And it is not just for convenience. Everyone
has felt the frustration of being stuck behind the driver
who is slowly trolling the streets scanning for any
potential spot that may pop open – wasting not
only their time and fuel, but yours as well.
In fact, according to a 2006 citywide survey, over
half of all drivers take more than five minutes to find
parking. That means, for every 10 cars aimlessly looking
for a parking spot, at least one gallon of gas is being
wasted. Imagine the gas we could save if drivers could
just find a spot!
No quarters? No problem. Drivers will be able to pay
with their credit and debit cards, and their Smart Trip
Cards. They will even be able to text in a payment using
their cell phones.
These meters will make parking more convenient, reduce
auto emissions, and ease traffic jams.
This is not the only impressive initiative happening
here in the Bay Area. I just received an in-depth briefing
on how traffic signals are being equipped with new technology
so they can more efficiently move transit buses through
the city streets.
And, as soon as authority is given, Doyle Drive will
be priced based on congestion to make commutes more
reliable for the people in San Francisco.
We believe that the solution to today’s traffic
problems do not have to be just about building new roads
San Francisco’s leaders understand that this
city has always led when it comes to innovation and
creativity. From its iconic street cars to the engineering
marvel of the Golden Gate, this city has a history of
boldness in its ideas on transportation.
And the city is leading again when it comes to bringing
technology to bear on today’s traffic gridlock.
It makes sense that a region that helped popularize
internet cafes is now bringing us internet parking,
timed traffic lights and adjustable rate roads.
Americans are looking for these types of transportation
solutions. I believe we will look back at San Francisco’s
congestion relief plan as a turn in the right direction.