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Will Higher Meter Fees Create Greater Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

Photo via foxtongue on Flickr.com

And so it's begun.  Parking meter prices have been raised for “special events” such as Giants’ home games. SFMTA explains that the prices will now “align more closely with rates in surrounding areas, and this will provide a more consistent experience for customers”.  That is a relief.  I know that I have been greatly bothered for a long time now by inconsistently reasonable parking rates. SFMTA’s making them all consistently overly expensive is a load off of my mind.  

Meter prices along the waterfront closest to the ballpark, which ranged from 25 cents to 50 cents per hour, will now cost $5.00 per hour and are in effect until 11 pm. This is the first wave. It was put into place very quietly.  Sadly, as was feared, parking is no longer a first come-first served, everyone-is-equal event on the public streets anymore.

My advice, if you are parking during these times, would be to avoid these meters like the plague, and park on a street that is a block or two up from the Embarcadero and King Street. The meters on these streets range from $3 to $3.50 per hour, but are $0 per hour after 6 pm.

People who do business along the Embarcadero, from the ballpark, near the Ferry Building, and all the way up to Fisherman’s Wharf should pay special attention because if you are not going to the ballgame, it’s just another Wednesday or Saturday afternoon for you, but at noon, parking at a public meter for a couple of hours will cost you $20, or $65 if you just put in your $3 like you usually do, without realizing that there was a 1900% increase in the meter fee that day, because of a special event, and get a parking ticket.

Three hours worth of time will require you to deposit 60 quarters….or a combination of 40 quarters, 35 dimes, and 30 nickels.  I would recommend getting an SFMTA Smart Parking Card, or being sure that you have a credit card with you. If you happen to forget your credit card or wallet, there is very little chance that you are going to scrape up 60 quarters from under your passenger seat, so just concede that parking is going to cost you $65 that day.  

But this creates a problem: Higher meter fees will create greater greenhouse gas emissions.

In order to be smart consumer’s and avoid a ticket, it would behoove each driver to carry that bucket of change with him or her. Part of SFMTA’s reasoning in justifying the new meter prices is to reduce congestion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If this extra change weighs about a pound, then that means that there will be 500,000 cars in SF driving around with an extra pound of weight each day. That means that this new plan of raising meter fees will be responsible for over half a million more pounds being driven around each day.  If the average vehicle drives just 10 miles per day, then that extra pound of spare change is being transported 5 million miles per day. That’s more than 200 times around the Earth, each day. This, will significantly add to greenhouse gas emissions, and contradicts the very reason that SFMTA said that they are putting the plan into place to begin with.

The Solution:
I propose that SFMTA does its part for the environment (if they really do care about greenhouse gas emissions), and make a law that states if a new meter’s credit card and smart card features malfunction, then the meter is considered broken, and the driver can park at it for the posted time limit for free. It’s a simple, reasonable, and fair idea.

Your comments are being read and tallied, and are very much appreciated, as this topic is quite worthy of some dialogue.  So, please speak your mind and let us know what you think by commenting below.

To read more about this meter fee increase or everything else that you ever wanted to know about parking, but didn’t think to ask, click here.