In article in the Boston Globe yesterday, Salem has acquired "smart" parking meters in preparation for better management of it's parking resources.  Salem is starting off on the right foot by both raising and lowering parking rates. Quoting the article:  "Hourly rates in the parking lots and garages will be lower than the hourly rates for meters on the adjacent streets. In addition, lower demand areas, such as the South River area, will be priced less than higher demand areas, such as the northern end of downtown.  For example, hourly rates in the garages will drop from $1.50 to $0.25 in the Waterfront Garage and from $1.50 to 75 cents in the Downtown Garage." 

Salem will join a significant list of smaller cities that have embraced parking reform.  These include Redwood City and Ventura California as well as trail-blazing Pasadena which undertook reform in the 90's and has seen such dramatic positive results.  We'll be keeping an eye on Salem to see how it all pans out in the coming months.

One of the key things about the SFPark pilot is the regular adjustment of rates.  They just released their 4th Rate adjustment.  It's interesting that they are truly raising as well as lowering prices to adjust to demand.  They do this about every two months.

Looking through the archives of their "News" tabs I could see that since the last three rate adjustments have seen a pretty balanced raising and lowering.  See how they have evolved below.  The screen shot is one of many pricing zones.  They can be seen in their entirety at http://sfpark.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/SFpark_rateadjustments_MeterAdj4_120207.pdf

Fourth Rate Adjustment (2/9/12):

• Decrease by 50¢ during 5% of metered hours
• Decrease by 25¢ during of 30% of metered hours
• Stay the same 39% of metered hours
• Increase by 25¢ during 26% of metered hours

Third rate adjustment (12/9/11), meter rates:
  • Decreased by 50¢ during 6% of metered hours
  • Decreased by 25¢ during of 29% of metered hours
  • Stayed the same 38% of metered hours
  • Increased by 25¢ during 27% of metered hours
Based on parking demand data, in this second rate adjustment (10/5/2011):

10 percent of rates decreased by $0.50
25 percent decreased by $0.25
33 percent stayed the same
32 percent increased by $0.25.

The first rate adjustment (7/11/11) saw the following price changes:
  • More than two-thirds of the new rates at SFpark meters were the same or lower than the old rates.
  • The new lowered rates were adjusted down by 25¢ or 50¢ to as low as $1.75/hour in some places.
  • The remaining one-third of the rates rose by 25¢ to $2.25, $3.25 or $3.75/hour depending on the current rate.