Will Less Parking, Higher Fees and More Fines Encourage Less Driving?

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San Francisco Farmers Markets

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It has been interesting to watch the public discourse about San Francisco's parking meters, use of parking spots, congestion and MUNI over the last few years.  It has been difficult for some developers to get approved plans for a 1:1 ratio of housing units to cars. More parking meters are being installed along the waterfront near areas used as access to recreation for many San Franciscans.  The city is considering a plan to charge a toll for driving in certain parts of the city that are more congested.  The city is also considering a toll for cars driving into the city from the penninsula.  New parking meters have been installed.  Meter maids are alerted when meters have expired and can quickly issue parking fines (at some of the highest rates in the country).  Why?  The city wants to encourage people to give up their cars.  All of these measures are discussed in the context of reducing congestion, improving the environment and encouraging San Franciscans and visitors to use public transportation.

The problem?  Our public transportation system is inadequate.  Routes are limited,  busses and trains don't run on schedule and aren't clean (this might not be MUNI's fault).  Limiting parking spots, charging tolls and increasing parking fees won't reduce congestion.  Nor will it increase ridership in MUNI or improve the environment unless our system of public transportation is improved in the city.  We need a convenient routes, courteous drivers, clean busses, on-time service and the list goes on.  Until then, it will be hard for many to get out of their cars. 

Kudos to City Carshare for creating an option so that not everyone needs to own a car in the city, and for their leadership in the industry.  I also learned of a new service, ParkCirca.  Using technology they are linking property owners who are willing to rent their driveways for a few hours with drivers who need parking.  Owners set the rates, drivers agree to pay.  ParkCirca handles the transaction.  Very cool.  I'm sure this will be especially useful in certain neighborhoods--dinner in Russian Hill may be doable again.

Thanks @ParkCirca for the follow and the conversation on Twitter.  Nice to learn about your service.  Apologies to @NJudah if I have offended you or any of your MUNI peers.  It's not personal