Patrick DeCorla-Souza, Tolling and Pricing Program Manager, FHWA Lee Munnich, Humphrey Institute, University of Minnesota Kenneth Buckeye, Minnesota Department of Transportation John Doan, SRF Consulting
Office of Innovative Program Delivery Federal Highway Administration
Eleventh Part of a Webinar Series on Overcoming the Challenges of Congestion Pricing.
Good afternoon or good morning to those of you to the West. Welcome to the Overcoming the Challenges of Congestion Pricing webinar series. My name is Jennifer Symoun and I will moderate today's webinar, which will focus on Best Practices in Parking Pricing. Please be advised that today's seminar is being recorded.
Before I go any further, I do want to let those of you who are calling into the teleconference for the audio know that you need to mute your computer speakers or else you will be hearing your audio over the computer as well.
Today we'll have six presenters: Allen Greenberg of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Donald Shoup from UCLA, Jay Primus from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority, Soumya Dey and Damon Harvey from the District of Columbia Department of Transportation, and Mary Catherine Snyder from the City of Seattle.
Today's webinar will last 90 minutes. If during the presentations you think of a question, you can type it into the chat area. Please make sure you send your question to "Everyone" and indicate which presenter your question is for. Presenters will be unable to answer your questions during their presentations, but I will start off the question and answer session with the questions typed into the chat box during the last half hour or so of the webinar. If we are unable to get through all of the questions in the time allotted we will get written responses from the presenters and send them out with the follow up information.
The PowerPoint presentations used today are available for download from the file download box in the lower right corner of your screen. I would also like to remind you that this session is being recorded. The recording, presentations, and a transcript will be posted to the Tolling and Pricing web site within the next few weeks and I will send out a notice when they are available.
We'll now go ahead and get started. Our first presenter will be Allen Greenberg of the FHWA, who is going to give a brief introduction to parking pricing.
Thanks everybody. I'm going to give an overview of the subject more broadly. The webinar today is more focused, but let me get to that in a second.
Parking pricing has a lot of dimensions to it, but the key thing that is really driving it and the need for it is that we are not pricing is sufficiently, and there are great consequences for that. I'm going to talk about that briefly. I'm going to mention the various strategies that are available, not getting into much depth on any of them. The Value Pricing Pilot Program, which is the program I work for, has supported it continues to support a range of pilot projects supporting different strategies. Finally, in getting to the subject of this webinar, we are going to focus mostly on performance pricing for on-street parking. In subsequent webinars on parking pricing we will cover some other topics.
What's the problem? The problem is that parking costs are typically hidden from the drivers; they don't see them and they don't internalize them. The result is that these subsidized or hidden costs lead to more driving, more vehicle ownership, substantially higher housing costs, sprawled development patterns, and the like. The problem itself is manifested in a number of ways. First and most importantly, we require a minimum parking levels for housing and other developments. In housing in particular, there's a fair amount of data showing an increased cost quite substantially reduces the supply of housing. Minimum parking requirements in commercial areas hinders our ability to redevelop those areas. Significantly, if you look at the subsidies employees receive from their employers, over 90% of private employers subsidize parking while only 6% subsidize transit, so it is a very skewed incentive.
What are the solutions? One goal is to eliminate parking requirements, and the way to do that is to rectify the problem of parking spillover, which is why we have parking requirements. Spillover can be rectified by pricing on-street parking to ensure there is availability. If we do that, there would be no need for off-street parking. Similarly, on the incentive side for employees, if we enact laws or ordinances to require employers who choose to subsidize employee car parking to offer a similar "cash out" subsidy to employees using alternative transportation, we will see a very substantial reduction in driving along to work.
A little bit about the Value Pricing Pilot (VPP) Program: it has been around for a while. Most recently, under SAFETEA-LU, it is a $12 million a year program: $3 million is specifically for projects that do not involve highway tolls, and parking pricing strategies fit into that area. We are supporting a range of projects, both on the side of trying to get street parking to be managed properly and efficiently and also to encourage revision of parking, especially un-priced parking, and other things such as looking at the monthly parking permits people buy and trying to make the cost for that more of a daily expense. There's a range of things that I've listed here. We have quarterly reports that we do for the VPP Program where one can find a little more information about each of these, and I'd be happy to follow up with anybody who wants to know more.
Additionally, we funded a couple a new products that have not gotten started. These are on your screen, and you can see in both the projects we've funded before and these new projects the full range of opportunities and approaches that we are trying to test, and it is only a small subset of what is out there; this is just what we are doing with our program. I do want to note that we had a solicitation that's closed and we're currently reviewing the applications we received for the VPP program. We had 23 applications come in and 9 of them are for parking pricing, which is a very high number. They include a very broad range of strategies, which are listed in the slide. We expect to have an announcement for what we are going to fund in June.
That's it for my slides. We are very fortunate to have Professor Shoup, who wrote the manual on this, "The High Cost of Free Parking," followed by Jay Primus, who is leading what I think is the most exciting project we've seen in this country, and then speakers from two cities that have exemplified some great new strategies for using parking pricing and are seeing the results of them. Getting street parking pricing to work well is really important. Being able to figure out what we have, manage it, use information to set prices, and actually get a result in terms of occupancy and no need to circle is an important strategy we have supported. I'm going to get out of the way and let the other speakers start. I appreciate everyone being here. Thank you.
Thank you, Allen. Our next presenter will be Donald Shoup from UCLA.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak to you today. I think urban problems often become widely recognized only after the solutions are available. I would like to talk about a problem for which there now seems to be a solution, which is something we have all done, maybe even today, which is cruising for underpriced curb parking. When the price of parking is a lot cheaper on the street than off the street, we have an incentive to cruise. Here are the prices of parking at my hotel in New York during my last stay. The first hour is very expensive off-street- $20 including taxes - and the meter was only $1 an hour. All of the spaces were full, so it seemed impossible to find a curb parking space. We all face this choice if we live in big cities sometimes. If you had to park for an hour and it was a dollar at the curb and $20 off-street, how much would you be willing to pay? If you're willing to drive around for a few minutes, everybody else is too, and that adds up to a lot of cruising.
Here is a summary of 21 studies that looked at cruising for parking in 13 cities on four continents and over the past 80 years. They looked for cruising where they expected to find it, but on average, about a third of the traffic was hunting for curb parking. I think some of the most interesting studies were recent ones in New York where people interviewed drivers who were stopped at traffic lights and asked if they were searching for curb parking. On a busy street in Manhattan, 28% of the drivers were cruising, and there was a lot of through traffic there, so the 28% of people who are hunting for a curb parking space were a large number of cars. On a more residential street in Brooklyn, 45% were searching for curb parking, because there weren't many other drivers on the street for purposes other than cruising.
The question is what is the right price? Why should we worry about it? The price is too high in many cases. If there are vacant spaces - half the meters or spaces are unoccupied - then the businesses aren't getting customers and the drivers aren't finding places to park. The price is too low if there are no spaces vacant because people will drive around hunting for parking, wasting time, wasting fuel, polluting the air. The price is just right if there are one or two open spaces so that people can see it is convenient to park. We call this the Goldilocks principle: not too high, not too low.
We call this performance pricing, and an easy way to say it is that you have one or two open spaces on each block. This means the prices should be at different times of day and at different locations. Another way to say it is about 85% occupied, and that means one or two vacant spaces.
Here's a summary of a survey we did in Los Angeles in a 15-block area next to UCLA. In the block on the left, a typical block, we estimated had two cars circling and waiting for a vacancy to open. We studied for a whole year and we estimated that during that year, there are almost 1,000,000 vehicle miles traveled hunting for curb parking in these 15 blocks. That's four trips to the moon or 36 trips around the earth, just because the price was too low. The block on the right is what I think would happen if you got the price right, with one or two vacant spaces on every block. There would be no need to cruise.
In San Francisco, which you will hear more about, they have a nice graphic showing what they think is the problem. The spaces are all full on the top block, so you have to drive around hunting for a space, and the bottom block may be farther away and less convenient, but it has empty spaces. If you could just move the price up a little on the top block and down on the bottom block, you might get a better distribution and there would be no reason to cruise.
Here is an example of what they are doing in San Francisco. You can see that they adjust prices every few weeks, and I think it has been quite surprising that the prices are very different on different blocks. If you look at this lowest left block, you can see that the price is $0.75 an hour on one block and $3.75 an hour on the next block. Many journalists call me and ask how can this be? How will drivers know where to park and won't they be confused? I think the answer to that is to say if half of the spaces are empty on the block where the price is now a dollar an hour, do you think the city should not reduce the price of parking on that block? That is what San Francisco does; they just look at the results and use that to adjust the price of parking. They have higher prices for special events that increase the demand for parking, and prices can go up to $18 an hour, which is based on the fact that is what the off-street operators charge for those events.
You might wonder, what does this look like? I took some pictures on the UCLA campus. Here is a meter that doesn't tell you what the price of parking is, but it can be different at different times. In fact, during the day, there are four different price schedules, and the only way you can tell what the price is, is to touch any button and it tells you the price at that hour. It was $3 for the first hour and $4 dollars for the second hour. It takes credit cards, but it's so expensive that we don't even take coins on the UCLA campus; it takes $1 bills and $5 bills and credit cards.
Many people suspect that professors have a lot of spare time on their hands and they do, so I set up my camera across from the eight spaces controlled by this meter to see what happens during an hour. I took a picture every 4 minutes, and I will show you the results. The two cars on either end never moved, but usually there was one vacant space. When one car left, another car arrived. You can see somebody paying at the meter; usually there's somebody paying at the meter. The hour begins, and you can see cars come and go. There was one time where there was no vacancy, but it did not last very long. This is what you don't want to see; normally, it happens on many blocks where the price is too low that there is nobody paying at the meter and there are no vacant spaces. If we advance the slide, you will see that in the next 4 minutes, the vacant space will open and cars come and go, but this is what we are trying to avoid. We are trying to avoid having all of the spaces vacant, because if someone arrives and wants to park, they will have to drive around hunting for parking. Everybody is familiar with that kind of operation. If this were a street in your city, this is what it would look like. If you just nudge the price up a little bit, you would find one or two of the spaces would be vacant, because with a higher price people would park for a shorter time, and if everyone parked for a slightly shorter time, it would open up some of the spaces. It doesn't mean that there will be more vehicle trips necessarily, but the vehicle trips will not end up cruising for 5 or 10 minutes hunting for parking, so they will be shorter trips.
This is what you really want to see on this slide here. You can see one vacant space and you see somebody at the meter paying, so the meters are earning money. That is the library right behind there, and somebody might want to make a quick trip to the library to get or return a book. Here's a summary of what we found during the hour; there was only one time where there was there no vacancy. Most of the time it was one, and sometimes it was three. That is about as good as you're going to get. I'd ask you, is that how the curb parking operates in your town? Would it normally show a distribution on a block that would be something like that many vacant spaces available? I think this is what we are aiming for. Should the price be lower? Then all the spaces would be full and drivers would have to cruise. Should it be higher? There would be too many vacant spaces. I am not saying $3 an hour is the right price for parking; I'm saying it's the right price in this location at that time, and that is what we should aim for.
We can say that this is going to cause opposition. Here is a flyer in San Francisco that was circulated when SFpark was proposed saying it would be attacks on the people, it was parking meter robbery, but 30% of people in San Francisco don't even own a car and all the money goes to pay for public transit, so I don't think this is something that is going to hurt poor people. The goal of the organization that is opposing it is that they oppose foreign wars for oil, but they want free parking at home. I think there is a lot of confusion about that.
I would like to finish up by saying, how can other cities make this idea more popular? One is to return some or all of the revenue to the metered neighborhood in added public services so the residents and merchants will see that the meter money does a lot of good in their neighborhood. Nobody ever wants to pay for parking, but you can create a group of people, the stakeholders, who want to charge for parking, especially since much of it is paid for by outsiders. They put this sticker on a meter in Old Pasadena saying it makes a difference, which is very different from a normal image of a parking meter where who knows where the money goes? When the residents get the money, they understand the idea of charging for parking. Here's a picture around the Los Angeles Coliseum during the 1984 Olympics, but it happens during every event at the Coliseum. The residents park their cars on the street and they sell the driveway space to ticket holders. Some people think it is un-American to charge for curb parking. I think it is very American to charge people for what they get. These people understand it, and I think any neighborhood that gets a specific benefit of having the meters will understand why you should charge the right price.
The ordinances are very simple. Here is one for the City of Ventura. This is the legislative language that they were aiming for a 15% vacancy rate, or about one space out of every eight open for new people so they can find a convenient space. They eliminated the time restrictions on parking so that you can park for as long as you want to pay. No one is telling you how long you should park; there are no 1 hour limits or 30 minute limits or anything like that. They return all of the money to the metered street. In the downtown of a small city, the blue is the metered streets and the orange is the free off-street parking, so there are alternatives. There are three wonderful results of this program. They surveyed the property owners and the merchants, and they overwhelmingly supported the meters. They thought it was a lot better than the previous time when they had no meters but a two-hour time limit because it was very difficult to enforce, and they spent all the money in the metered area. There were two things they do not expect. Some of the money was used to hire police interns to enforce the meters; these are people that want to join the police department but there are no funds for them - they get paid an intern's wage and they wear police uniforms. The crime rate dropped 40% after the meters went in and a uniformed presence appeared on the street. Another wonderful thing that I think will be happening in more cities is that they used WiFi connections to connect the meters to City Hall for credit card verification and they can remotely change the price of the parking meters. You don't have to touch the meters to adjust the prices; you can do it remotely. They have low power WiFi in the meters from the nearby telephone and light poles that have connection to the mains and to City Hall. They realized shortly after they set it up that they had excess capacity of the WiFi because a lot of times nothing is happening and no credit cards are being validated, so they made free WiFi available to everybody on the metered streets; all the restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores get it, so the stores that previously had to pay for WiFi for the customers are getting it free, courtesy of the parking management program. I think if you could promise this to any neighborhood and say we are thinking of doing performance pricing in your neighborhood, would you like to have it, and you told them they could have free WiFi as a byproduct of it, it is very clear that if you want the WiFi, the parking meters are the way to get it. They don't really care about the fact that it will slow global warming or reduce oil imports or air pollution, but they will know they are getting a special benefit.
I don't think you can end with anything better than a quote from Abraham Lincoln. I think our case is new. We have a lot of new problems now and climate change is way up there, and we didn't become a great nation by being a bunch of freeloaders. We shouldn't think that free parking is a historic right in this country. We all want something for nothing, but it has caused a lot of problems when that something is free parking and we have to cruise around to get it. That is about all I know, so I better stop and turn it over to Jay Primus, who is an expert in making this all work. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak to you.
Thank you very much, Don. I know we have few questions in there for Don. We'll get to them after all of the presentations. The next presenter will be Jay Primus from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA).
Once again, I am Jay Primus from SFMTA. This will be a brief overview of what we have done with the SFpark demonstration project in San Francisco, which builds on Professor Shoup's work and in other cities, like Redwood City, that have started to do parking pricing. Before starting, I want to mention that I work for SFMTA. It is a pretty unique agency in the nation in that we plan, manage, and operate the city's transportation system, including all the modes here and parking. That is on-street parking as well as a big portion of the city's off-street supply: 20 garages and 21 parking lots. That is relevant because parking is at the heart of so many transportation issues: it's the literal intersection between land use and transportation. The way we manage parking really affects everyone on the street.
This is a picture of exactly what we are trying to avoid. It is a common scene in San Francisco. If you look closely, you will see that all the parking spaces are taken. The result is that people double park to stop in for errands, make commercial deliveries. What you don't see are lots of cars circling, and these are cars waiting to make right and left turns as pedestrians clear and also distracted drivers searching around for 5 or 10 minutes looking for a space. These are drivers that are much more likely to cause a collision, either hitting a pedestrian or cyclist or another car. Stuck in the middle is Muni, our public transit system, to slowly negotiate these narrow streets around double parked cars or cars waiting to make right or left turns. One of the other more indirect effects is just the perception in the region that parking in San Francisco is difficult, it is hard to find a space, you might get a ticket, and it is hard to pay. We hear from a lot of business owners that this is bad for business and that we're reducing the number of people that can access the stores and conveniently stop by to pick something up. It's a big deal in how we manage the transportation system and affect the city's overall goals.
So, how did we get here? What are we doing? For 70 years, in San Francisco, we managed parking like most other North American cities. This was by using a combination of flat meter rates and short time limits to try to create turnover. This is a picture of San Francisco in 1947, Mayor Latham operating the city's first parking meter. You can see very clearly that we've been doing the same thing since then: 60 minute or 120 minute time limits that don't work well for anyone and certainly don't deliver the kinds of outcomes and benefits we are looking for. That focus on turnover doesn't necessarily create availability or open spaces, which is, in our opinion, the ultimate goal of turnover. With SFpark, have been trying to make the subtle shift of moving beyond turnover - we don't really know what the right amount of turnover is; it could vary from block to block. We focus on a bottom line goal of creating a minimum level of availability and open spaces so that a driver's experience is that most of the time they can find a parking space quickly and close to their destination. That is a subtle shift in our approach and that is, in a word, what we are doing about it. Implied in that is a different way of looking at parking. In San Francisco, for a long time, the rates at the meters, citations (how much it cost to get a parking ticket), rates at garages, have been mainly adjusted as a way to balance our budget. By tying parking meter rates and how we set rates to an availability target, by creating a rules-based, transparent, data-driven process to set prices, we are recognizing parking as a powerful tool to achieve our goals for the transportation system in the city rather than just a way to make money. This is a huge difference and a way to significantly contribute to achieving important goals, whether for economic vitality and competitiveness, driver convenience, transit reliability, greenhouse gas reduction, or congestion reduction.
With the generous financial support of the USDOT and the Urban Partnership Program, the SFpark program has been a demonstration at about 25% of the city's metered spaces in the neighborhoods you see here. These neighborhoods include 14 of the city's garages and one of our parking lots. We have been doing different parts of what Professor Shoup described, and the rest presentation is about specifically each element.
The first step of getting this off the ground and doing some of the planning was the parking census. Starting with the maxim that you can't manage what you can't measure, we had to count our parking spaces. We just didn't know, and I believe we were the first city to actually do this: count every on-street street, off-street lot and garage space that is available. That was critical for our planning - how many meters and sensors it would take—and also very helpful for our evaluation and lots of benefits for other planning projects, so it's been a real boon for the city.
Another critical first step was enhancing credibility and putting our own house in order. Before we asked the public we serve to consider a different way of managing parking, we wanted to put our own house in order, and part of that was requiring all city vehicles to pay at the meter and holding MTA employees to that same standard and the even higher standard that all MTA employees would have to pay for parking, whether on-street or off-street, in our own lots. That was a critical step for our credibility; a lot of people had pointed that out prior to SFpark as an inconsistency in our approach.
There are two main pieces of equipment that the Federal funding made possible. First were parking meters that take credit cards, not just coins and smart cards as in the past in San Francisco. These are not terribly novel, lots of cities have them, but they are critical for two reasons. One is dramatic improvement in payment convenience. People love to be able to pay. Also, the fact that they take credit cards is really important because that means there is real-time authorization and there has to be communication ability of those meters, and as you'll see later, that is important so we can push out rate changes wirelessly, rather than having a meter shop technician visit each meter. That was a critical piece of implementing this approach to managing parking.
A second piece is what looks like a humble hockey puck; it's parking sensor. These are individual sensors embedded in the pavement at each of the on-street parking spaces in the pilot areas. It's incredible technology; they contain two batteries that continuously sense and tell us whether that space is occupied or not and send that data to us in real-time for 5 years. This is the first large scale installation of this technology, so it's really exciting really enables a more sophisticated approach to parking management.
The really cool thing about that data is that it comes to us in real-time so we can share it with our customers to help them get matched up with a parking space and off the road as fast as possible. Better information is part of this demonstration, including real-time information. There's an iPhone and Android app and an open real-time data feed that anyone can consume, whether Google, in-vehicle navigation systems, or other app developers. It's what we use for our website and iPhone apps as well. You don't need a smartphone for this to work - there is also text message, a way to call it, the region's 511 system shares the data, and, later this year, there will be variable message signs on the street on approaches to downtown from the freeways letting people know which garages have space.
The heart of the project, as Professor Shoup described, is demand-responsive pricing; trying to zero in on the lowest rate possible to meet the availability target we're looking for. The approach we're using in San Francisco is gradual and periodic, and very deliberate. We change rates up or down by $0.25 every 4 to 6 weeks to gradually find the right price. We always express as our legal obligation to find the lowest rate possible, as Professor Shoup described. We have to assure people, especially when we were doing initial outreach for this, that demand-response pricing does not mean dynamic pricing - changing pricing every 10 minutes, which would be really frustrating for drivers. The whole point here is that we send price signals and we give drivers a chance to learn those new prices - for some of them to learn, and for some of them to possibly change when they travel, how they travel, how they park, and go from there. That was the rationale for doing it every 4 to 6 weeks. If that's the right period or not, that's part of the evaluation, but so far, we have been happy with that gradual approach. Perhaps related to that is the fact we have had no complaints about the demand-responsive pricing. The flyer that Dr. Shoup showed was actually about our proposal a couple of years ago to meter on Sundays and into the evenings, which was pretty hot to handle. The way the pricing works at the meters, it is broken into three different timestamps, 9am - 12 pm, 12pm - 3 pm, 3pm - 6pm, and rates can vary within those, either on weekdays or weekends.
The next slide shows what that looks like on the street - you saw a slide like that in Dr. Shoup's presentation. This is a summary of how rates have changed thus far. We just completed last week our fourth rate change. We have been doing them about every 8 weeks so far as we have been getting our technical footing and gaining confidence in an utterly new way of managing our prices and meters. We will be accelerating that now to ever 4-5 weeks starting March 28. This is what we have seen so far. We haven't seen huge changes in behavior. Obviously parking prices aren't the only factor in travel behavior; there's some seasonality, there's some changes in rates at garages. This is part of the evaluation. We are in the middle of the pilot and that careful evaluation will be happening later this year.
Pricing at the garages is also critical. It's a very similar approach: time of day pricing rather than length of stay, as we have on street. We have one particularly innovative and simple thing that any city can do: if you enter the garage or exit before or after a certain time, in our case it is enter before 7:30 am or exit after 7:00 pm, you get an off-peak discount. It's meant to encourage people to arrive earlier or leave later, and it's an off-peak discount of $2 on either end for a total discount of $4. I think that is pretty innovative because price is a pretty powerful tool in influencing when people choose to travel, and crucially, it is framed as a discount. Everyone loves a discount, but no one likes a peak period surcharge, so it's one way to get a lot of the same benefit, but really framed correctly.
One thing we hear from other cities as they've been contacting us and asking us how it has been going is about the luxury of federal funding, which has no doubt been wonderful. For the moment, parking sensors are expensive, so what we've talked about and are going to be testing out this spring ourselves is how can we do demand-responsive pricing without the benefit of parking sensors? If we are doing it based on occupancy data, we get the data from parking sensors, but you can also get it from manual surveys - sneakers and clipboards, which is pretty labor intensive. Another possibility is inferring occupancy from parking meter payment status - knowing that some people don't pay and there are some disabled placards out there, and doing some manual corroboration of that - but exploring those ways that cities could, at a low cost, do demand-responsive pricing, being a little more sophisticated about finding the right price.
One important thing to mention is enforcement. Longer time limits have been part of the mix; we have moved away from short time limits as a way to achieve turnover and really tried to use price to achieve availability. What's that meant for our customers with longer time limits and meters that make it easier to pay is that there are much fewer tickets, and this is what we expected and exactly what we are seeing. Our meter revenue breakdown used to be approximately in the SFpark area 50% meters and 50% meter-related citations, and that is a terrible punitive ratio. Now, and this is early on in the project, we haven't looked at the last few months, that ratio moved to 70-30; 70% of people are paying at the meter and 30% of the revenue come from tickets. That is great for customer service: fewer ticket protests. It is good for our parking control officers because it frees them up to do other things. It also means that prices are more relevant the more people that use meters. People pay one way or another, either with meters or citations. The more people use the meters, the more those price signals we're sending are relevant. Enforcement truly is a critical piece that we are seeing work really well. This is an illustration of the changing proportion of revenue.
One small but noteworthy thing we have been doing is probably the most cost-effective thing we are doing: 225 static directional wayfinding signs, signs on the garages, consistent branding, consistent look and feel, guiding people to garages and lots. Even San Franciscans who have been here all their life don't necessarily know where all of our garages and lots are. The whole point is to get people off the street fast, so we're trying to make that easy at a very low cost.
For those of you interested in evaluation of the demonstration project, we are really excited about the luxury of Federal funding and being able to do a fabulous evaluation. All of the hypotheses and expectations of how this approach to managing parking will improve transit reliability, speed, safety, economic vitality, and so on, we are gathering data very carefully and rigorously to evaluate all of that, and that evaluation will be complemented by the USDOT's independent evaluation team. This is some of the data that's flowing in automatically. The next slide is about the data we're collecting manually. Worth mentioning is the data management system that was required for this. This is an avalanche of data, and having a very heavy-duty data management tool and analytical tool to manage that day was also important. Excel was not going to cut. This is important for two reasons. One was for the operation of the project, making rate recommendations and processing. We get 500,000 records a day from the parking sensors, so we needed a way to manage that and make rate recommendations quickly, and now it's just a push of a button to process all that data. That tool is also going to be fabulous in terms of facilitating the evaluation of this project and really being a foundation for having a more analytical approach to managing more of what we do.
As far as what's next, we're rolling out pay by phone citywide, that's at about 75% of our meters right now and we're just trying to make it easier to pay and offering more options. This is citywide, not just SFpark area. We will continue to develop the technical underpinnings of the data management tool and the cherry on top of that, which is the business intelligence tool and analytical power to sift through the data for the evaluation. Later this year, we will be turning on those variable message signs as they get installed and trying to accelerate the sharing of the lessons learned so far and the evaluation. We will prepare to take what we learned in this pilot project and develop a proposal for how we manage paid parking citywide in San Francisco.
As far lessons learned, that focus on availability has been critical. The more we've been working on this, that is the single, bottom-line measure that has really risen head and shoulders above the others. It is very simple, and from that, to the extent we achieve that availability goal seems to flow the other benefits that we're looking for. No doubt, shifting how people think about parking takes time. We have all been looking at parking in one way; at least in our organization and city, turnover has been a mantra for 70 years, so changing that within her agency and organization, we are still the middle of that, and also shifting how our customers look at parking. In the past, we have just been people giving them parking tickets, so we have done extensive outreach: hundreds of meetings, one-on-one, with key groups at the very beginning of the project, and that's part the reason we haven't had complaints. A lot of people understand the goals and benefits of what we're trying to do. Having good branding and good design I think was really critical. This was an opportunity to establish via a new brand, SFpark, a new relationship with parking in San Francisco. Rather than the people who gave you tickets, now it's the people that are making parking easier, smarter, and more convenient. That has been pretty powerful. When we talk to savvy community groups, having a clear, rules-based approach to setting rates rather than a murky political one has been reassuring and helpful. People know the rules, and that seems to settle the conversation a lot. Also, the fact that SFpark was essentially a complex IT undertaking. That was something we knew going into it, but it has turned out to be even truer than we expected. Managing this data required us to increase our technical sophistication quite a bit, and the new way of managing meter data, configurations, and rate changes is not to be underestimated. If another city were to go down this path of using parking sensors, it would be good to talk and share what we have learned and mistakes we have made. Related to the IT undertaking comment, parking equipment is not plug and play. We're all used to Apple, iPhones, and everything plugging in and working reasonably well. Parking management technology is more 1989 than it is 2012, so it takes a lot of coding to make things work together well.
That is the overview. In case you're interested in more, on our website, we've done our best to have as much information there as possible. As part of that, that if you go to the resources section, you'll find a 140 page PDF that's a book we threw together last fall, towards the beginning of the pilot projects, to share a description of what we have done lessons learned at that point. It is meant to be an easy way to share very explicitly as much as we could up until then. This is my contact information if we don't have time for questions today. With that, I'll hand it over to Jennifer.
Thank you, Jay. As I mentioned before, we will take questions after all of the presentations. You can continue to type in questions for Jay and we'll get back to them after the presentations. Our next presenters will be Soumya Dey and Damon Harvey from the District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT).
Good afternoon everyone. I am Damon Harvey, the acting citywide program manager with DDOT. I'm going to begin our presentation and Soumya Dey will go next.
I want to go pretty quickly through what performance-based parking is. I think everyone is pretty clear on what performance-based parking entails. We began performance-based parking the District of Columbia in March 2008 with our first pilot zone, which is our largest pilot zone, the Ballpark district. Right now, we have three pilot zones, two up and running: the Ballpark district, which began in March 2008, and the Columbia Heights performance-based parking zone, which is smaller and began in March 2009, Next month, March 2012, we will open up our third along the H Street Northeast corridor. One of the hallmarks of performance-based parking is the data collection methodology and approach, which Jay honed in on in his presentation. What we do her is we count up all the parking spaces in the performance-based parking pilot zones. For the Ballpark district, one of the reasons we began there is because there is a special traffic generator there, the Washington Nationals Ballpark. We provide information to the public based on occupancy and turnover rates on game days and on non-game days. As Jay alluded to in his presentation, we have done an incredible amount of stakeholder feedback. One of the things that our stakeholders wanted to know about was the percentage of parkers from various jurisdictions, so we looked at the number from the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and other states as well. That is merely a snapshot from one of our reports in terms of how we break the data down.
Here, we provide the top ten highest curbside occupancy rates on Washington Nationals game days and non-game days. You see in the highlighted section the occupancy rates and the percentages. Some of them are above 100%. That is because we count all parking, not just legal parking. If you have more vehicles parked on the curbside than there are legal parking spaces, then you will have a higher percentage and higher occupancy rate than 100%. Very easy to understand: if you have 100 linear feet on a curbside, here in DC you can't park within 25 feet of a stop sign and you can't park within 10 feet of a fire hydrant, but that doesn't mean folks don't do it, so we could all of the parked vehicles on the block and then we compare that to the legal number of parking spaces that are on the block. Those are the top ten locations that we took a look at about a year ago.
In terms of the Columbia Heights parking zone, as I mentioned, it's smaller, and you'll see as well that 73% of the blocks had an occupancy rate below 85%, and 80-90% is our target occupancy rate in our performance-based parking pilot zones. Twenty-seven percent, conversely, had an occupancy rate at or about 85%. It's a 44 block area, and the average turnover for vehicles in the Columbia Heights area was 2 hours 47 minutes.
Here, again, you see a slide where we provide information about where the vehicles are coming from in the jurisdictions, and we also provide information about the blocks that have the highest occupancy rates. Just a quick point here on occupancy rates and turnover rates: if you're trying to figure out how to get into performance-based parking, the occupancy rate is very important because you want to know how your curbside performs, you want to know how much volume your curbside has. Turnover rate information, a lot of jurisdictions don't collect that, but turnover rate information helps us in the District because it allows us to determine how often each one of those occupied meter spaces turn over.
As I mentioned, next month we are going to begin our next pilot zone. This is the face plate we're going to put on our multi-space meters along the H Street Northeast corridor. We're going to begin with variable pricing based on time of day. From 7 am until 6:30 pm, you will pay $0.75 an hour to park along the H Street corridor. From 6:30 pm until 10:00 pm, when our meters go off, you would pay $2 an hour to park. We did the same thing in Columbia Heights when we began there in 2009. We got data from the license plate reader technology and we have vehicles that drive around the entire area and pull information and give us that data. Once we get more refined data, we will go to hourly performance-based parking meter rates as we do in Columbia Heights and the Ballpark district. One other thing we'll be doing along the H Street Northeast corridor is begin using the 36 meters in the corridor and begin collecting the revenue numbers from those meters and using that as a proxy for occupancy rates. We will continue doing our license plate reader technology, but that is very time consuming and expensive for us to do the LPR technology data collection. If we are going to be able to have multi-space meters that are giving us daily information, although that information is not as good as the LPR technology, the sheer amount of it we believe is going to help us in terms of making sure that we're making sound occupancy rate decisions in terms of what we're charging to park on the meters.
I mentioned previously the 80-90% occupancy rate that we are looking for in the area. This is a quick map of the H Street corridor; H Street is the middle street. One block on each side, we're doing some protection for residents to mitigate spillover impacts. One of the protections is a resident-only residential permit parking strategy, and basically what that means is on blocks within one block of H Street corridor, we will install resident only RPP signs on one side of the block. All of these blocks are already in our residential permit parking system, and that means these blocks have time restrictions for people who come park on those streets that do not have zoned stickers (there are eight zones in the District of Columbia).
Soumya Dey Thank you for this opportunity to present. I am going to talk with you about three basic issues that we are dealing with. These are issues we are dealing with in the District, but I'm pretty confident these are issues my colleagues across the industry are faced with as well. I saw a question on the first topic I'm going to talk about, which is how dynamic do we need to be with our pricing strategies? The second issue I want to talk about is how accurate do we need to be with our real-time sensor information? The third one is based on some of the programs that have launched in the city successfully, what are the options of what I would call "asset lite solutions," so less capital-intensive solutions. Do we really need meters for all spaces? Can we minimize the use of sensors?
On the first issue of how dynamic we really need to be, dynamic pricing can be viewed across a spectrum. If you go from the bottom left to the top right, you have at one end of the spectrum fixed price by time of day, which is adjusted periodically, and at the other end of the spectrum, you have variable pricing that adjusts based on real-time availability or occupancy information. Right now, we are more towards the bottom left of the spectrum, but we want to migrate to further up the dynamic pricing spectrum. There are advantages and disadvantages. If you are fixed pricing by time of day, the pricing structure is easy to understand for the consumers and easy to communicate. The disadvantage is that the one to two open spaces per block face that you are trying to get to is going to be an average. There might be different time periods where all your spaces are taken, but on the average, as in the various snapshots Professor Shoup showed, you will have on average one or two open spaces. The pricing strategy that you set is looking at historical data and applying that strategy in the future. If you migrate to the purely dynamic environment, the price is based on real-time availability, so if you're doing this right, you should have one open space all the time, theoretically. It's really difficult to communicate that information in what I would call an open system. I would call metered curbside parking an open system as opposed to a HOT lane facility on the freeway. You have a limited number of entry and exit points, so if you are changing pricing dynamically, you have this option of communicating that information to drivers as they are getting ready to enter the closed system, but you don't have that luxury with parking. Obviously, there is an issue of cost. The more dynamic it is, the amount of data analysis increases and algorithms get more complex. I see lots of similarities in this debate. Looking at the traffic engineers' world, there is an ongoing debate about using fixed time controller versus adaptive controller. I think the issues here are somewhat similar. The bottom line is what each jurisdiction needs to assess is if the additional expense and effort that you go through while going to the dynamic range of the scale is a justified by the ability of pricing to affect your congestion. That is the question is to answer.
On the second issue, how accurate do you need to be with your occupancy information? Typically, if you're using sensors, you need one sensor per space. In an urban environment, some jurisdictions have seen that to really get accurate information you need more than one because of underground utilities and all of that. There are capital and operating costs associated with that. Sensors by themselves are not overly expensive and the operating costs are not huge, but if you start multiplying that number out by 17,000-18,000 spaces in DC or 62,000 spaces in New York, you get into millions of dollars of capital and operating expenses. The number of sensors that you need is driven by two factors: accuracy of information and the latency needs. I would argue that if you're trying to do dynamic pricing, the level of accuracy that you need is probably different than the level of accuracy you need for traveler information points. The thing we're trying out in the District is can we derive occupancy from a sampling of real-time sensors so that we don't have a sensor for every spot but have a sample of sensors and we mine the rest of the data and combine that with real-time data that is available from a completely networked system.
Let's dig a little bit deeper. One of the things that we talk about is the capture rate. The capture rate is the maximum revenue potential for the meters, so if all the meters are working and each and every space is occupied and everybody pays, that is your maximum revenue. You divide that by your actual revenue to get the capture rate. In a networked environment, I can know real-time what my capture rate is and my capture rate is actually a function of my system uptime, paid legal, which is a percentage of people that park and actually pay, and occupancy. System uptime is available for real-time systems. The occupancy I can get from sample data and capture rates, and I can calibrate paid legal using historical data.
You need a high level of accuracy if you're pushing the information on curbside parking availability to people in real-time, because it gets to the branding and credibility issue. We are testing out different asset lite solutions in the District. We launched a pay by cell program citywide in June 2011, and in 7 months we have a customer base of over 200,000 and we have done 1.3 million transactions, which means that 30% of the revenue generated through this program is through the pay by cell program. What this means in terms of how I can structure my parking meter program is I can go to things such as meter readers, and we are trying to get funding for a pilot that we want to do where when the capture rate gets above 50% using pay by cell, we want to get rid of meters from one side of the street, so that side is going to be for people that use pay by cell and the other side is still going to have meters. We want to do a pay by cell only the solution for tour buses. This is a pilot area, so the universe of buses that you are dealing with is manageable. The rate structure will be based on the length of stay, and the spaces, instead some of meters, will be designated with pay by cell zone numbers. We want to do the same thing for freight and trucks: pay by cell only, the cost adjusted by time of day. The whole idea is trying to reduce congestion by diverting loading and unloading to off-peak. The real-time availability of information adds value to the freight industry by helping them plan deliveries better.
With that, I will turn it back over to you, Jennifer.
Thank you, Soumya and Damon. We are now going to move on to our final presentation, and that will be from Mary Catherine Snyder from the City of Seattle.
Mary Catherine Snyder
Thank you very much. I'm going to cover a little bit of background on our parking system and talk through our performance-based parking program and policies.
The City of Seattle replaced all of our single space meters in the mid-2000s. We have 2,100 parking-on-pay stations, the kiosks here. In the City of Seattle, we believe strongly, in terms of what SFpark was talking about, the mantra that you can't manage what you can't count. We have 32,250 parking spaces and we track linear foot, how space is used in our paid parking system. We are doing our performance-based parking program throughout our paid parking program.
For some takeaways, it is a citywide effort; we are not piloting, so when we do our parking studies, we are evaluating every neighborhood. Some neighborhoods we're sampling in terms of the data we collect and some we collect data for all the paid spaces in the neighborhood. We are taking a relatively low tech approach to data collection. It's primarily based on manual counts, which we do in studies, which I will talk about. We're making annual management changes, so we are looking at changes to the parking rates, changing the maximum time limit that people are allowed to park, and the hours of operation for parking. We are also developing a branding program to have a large scale communications effort so that through the parking signs and the other information, people get to understand the parking rules, there is a behavior change, we are seeing more space available, and we're meeting our policy goals.
Here is our parking rate policy. In late 2010, the City Council adopted a new parking rate policy that really focused on measurement and technical criteria. We're looking at setting rates so there are one or two open spaces available on each block face on average throughout the day. Like the other presenters, people have been talking about target occupancy. We are setting rates between $1 an hour and $4 an hour.
These are the goals we're trying to maintain. It is really about availability, but also keeping in mind that people don't park to park, they park because they're going somewhere. We want to make sure the parking rules that we have in place are set to support the business district.
Since November 2010 we have done four citywide parking studies and we are getting ready to do another annual citywide parking study this year in June and October. We typically spend $125,000 to $250,000 on our citywide parking studies.
In terms of how we are implementing the policy, what I'm going to talk about is how we set the rates, the maximum time limits, and the hours of operation based on the data that we collect. I'll talk about two different numbers that we put together. The first is the target occupancy. This is what we are trying to figure out because we have to operationalize, by neighborhood, the one to two spaces target. We look at the average number of spaces on a block face in a neighborhood or in a sub-area of a neighborhood and we figure out what one or two spaces would be; so, if there are eight spaces on average in this example, to meet our one to two space occupancy, we're looking at a range of 75% to 885. We are now looking for every neighborhood and sometimes sub-area of a neighborhood where we would have a different target occupancy. Then we are comparing that number to the peak occupancy in that area from the data that we collect. We use the three highest hours of the daytime occupancy for our parking study; those hours are highlighted here. We're not looking at evening conditions. It happens that occupancy in many Seattle neighborhoods is well over 100% in the evening. Right now, we're just using the daytime occupancy in terms of comparing to the target.
If the area of peak occupancy is within the target occupancy, we keep the rate in the operating system as it is. If the peak occupancy is below, we are looking at some rate decreases or changing the maximum time limits, or other changes. If the area peak occupancy is too high, we're going to look at rate increases or changes to the maximum parking time.
In terms of what we have been doing for the last two years, in the beginning of 2011, after the November parking study we completed, we made four area rate increases. We actually lowered the rates in eleven neighborhoods and we kept the rates the same in seven neighborhoods. This year, we are making some other kinds of changes, and I'm going to focus a little bit on the changes to the maximum time limits and why we are pursuing that.
The reason we are looking at changing the maximum time limits is for the most part in Seattle, paid parking is two hours maximum. What we found is when we lowered the rates in early 2011 in eleven areas we did not see any dramatic increases in parking occupancy. On the other side, when we raised the rate - like in downtown Seattle, where we went from $2.50 to $4 an hour - that helped to make more spaces available. We saw a lot of fluctuation in areas where the rates stayed the same and we did not see a dramatic increase in occupancy in the areas where we lowered the rates. What we are trying to do is find some other strategies to encourage people to go to those areas. It is possible that the rate charged was not what was preventing them from going. There could be some other reason, so we're looking at changing the time limits from 2 hours to 4 hours or allowing all day hourly parking in those neighborhoods.
This is just an example of a few of the neighborhoods. If people are interested, I have this chart for all of the 23 neighborhoods that we have been studying. Just as a summary of our activities, we are pursuing rate and time limit implementation in 18 or 19 of the 23 neighborhoods where we have paid parking. We're also pursuing a pay by phone project, so we expect to have an RFP out on the street within the next few weeks and we would like to have citywide installation of pay by phone starting in the third quarter of this year. We also have a real-time parking guidance system in parking facilities in downtown Seattle. The unique part of the program in Seattle is that it is a public-private partnership with off-street parking operators that are not owned by the city. That is an expansion from the six garages that the signs are in today to about ten or fifteen by the end of this year.
That is what I have, and please contact me or other people with the City of Seattle if you have follow-up questions. Thank you, I will turn it back over.
Thank you, Mary Catherine. We're going to move on to the question and answer session. We have about 15 minutes, so we're going to try to get through as many questions as we possibly can. If we run out of time, we will try to get written responses from the presenters.
One question for Mary Catherine is why aren't evening peaks considered, especially if they are well over 100% occupied?
Mary Catherine Snyder
We are just starting to roll out evening paid parking, so in eight neighborhoods in Seattle we have parking until 8 pm. I think as that takes hold, we will start looking at what we can do to regulate parking in the evenings.
Dr. Shoup, we have some questions for you. How dynamic is too dynamic when it comes to pricing? If we want people to respond to pricing signals, is there a point where price has undesirable effects? How might you figure out an optimal price schedule change?
It should certainly be much more dynamic than it was in LA for the last 20 years when they left the meter rates unchanged for 18 years and then doubled it everywhere in the city in a frantic desire for more money. I think it is best to do exactly what they are trying in San Francisco, starting out with every 6 weeks and seeing how that works and then maybe shorten it. I really don't know how you would predict what the optimum schedule is without seeing the results, so I think that the advantage of this industrial strength evaluation in San Francisco to see whether there is an average occupancy during the 6 weeks and see if it is very different during different times of those 6 weeks. I think you want to aim for the idea that at all times, everywhere, there are one of two vacant spaces. We will have to slowly figure out what is the right interval between price changes, but I think, as Jay said, they will become less reactive and more predictive and you don't wait to see what happens at Christmas time; you will anticipate what is going to happen.
Once I leave my home, I'm committed to parking. How do you communicate pricing to me before I get into my car or a bus?
I think, as Jay showed, if you are concerned about this, you can always go on to the web and look to see what the prices are at the time of your trip and figure out where is the best place for you to park, if you're that concerned about prices. I think it is very good if somebody says, four blocks away, I could get a lower price, so I will park there and walk. It is good for everybody because they will be walking by more stores and coffee shops and places to buy things and spend money. They also offer to send e-mails to everybody whenever there is a price change. I think a lot of the visitors, especially in a place like San Francisco, they are from out of town and they get to a meter and they are so grateful to be able to find one that they just pay what the rate is; they don't know that it was different 6 weeks ago or that it's different on the next block. The regulars, the rest of us, they know they can get a bargain someplace else if they are willing to walk. If you are smart enough to drive a car, you should be smart enough to operate a parking meter. We shouldn't aim for the lowest common denominator. I think everyone should be able to figure this out once they're used to it.
Jay, I'll let you answer this first and Professor Shoup can jump in as well: do you discourage progressive pricing strategies where the price is determined by length of stay?
As we were planning this project in the very beginning, we looked carefully at the two main approaches to pricing, which is time of day or length of stay. The reason we settled on time of day was because of the emphasis on congestion management. Length of stay pricing does not influence when people choose to park and therefore when people choose to drive, whereas time of day pricing does, to the extent that people are paying attention to prices. Not everybody does, but we don't need everyone to know. That was the reason for the deliberate decision to go with the time of day approach. It was really for the congestion management benefit, influencing when people park and still being able to manage towards availability targets, even if the price is lower later on in the day.
I would add the observation that if prices are different at different times of day, that could lead to progressive prices if the price goes up during your stay. In San Francisco, it's from opening to noon, noon to 3 pm, and 3 pm to close, so if you arrive at 2 pm and the price is $3 and you are staying until 5 pm and the price in the last hour is $4, you will pay that at the meter, so it is automatically progressive, but in some cases, the price will go down during your stay, so the second hour may be cheaper than the first hour. I don't think the prices are automatically progressive; I think the price ought to be appropriate for the time you are parked there. I would recommend a policy that some cities have adopted called progressive parking five. Some people are habitual parking violators; people with four or more violations often account for 25% of all of the tickets of the city. Some cities increase the fines for the second, third and fourth violation, and it could$25 for the first violation, $50 for the second and $75 for the third, and that is a progressive schedule that I like.
I believe this is a question for Soumya and Damon. It's asking to hear more about the ordinance to require employers who subsidize parking to offer parking cash out. Were employers concerned that they could end up with a lot of empty parking spaces they still had to pay to maintain?
We don't have a program in the District where we have any kind of subsidized parking for employers or employees. The rule in the District of Columbia is that we do not provide on-street parking for employers or employees, public or private sector.
In California, we do have a parking cash out law that says if the employer has more than 50 employees and if they rent parking spaces to offer free to employees, they have to offer employees the option to take the cash value of the space, and the cash value is what the employer pays for this space in a garage. If the employer does offer people cash in lieu of a free parking space, then the employer saves on paying rent to a garage, but they pay the employee and they have to offer the same thing to everybody. You can't say I am offering you free parking or nothing; you have to say that if I offer you free parking, I have to offer you the cash value. That makes the subsidy more flexible and it's up to the commuter to decide if he uses the money for parking, transit fare, carpooling, bicycling, or walking.
The draft ordinances that I have seen have had a schedule for the requirement to be introduced so that if an employer has parking, they would normally have time to shed it. For instance, a typical ordinance would not require cash out be implemented until the lease is being renegotiated.
We have a question that I will put it out to Jay, Soumya, Damon, and Mary Catherine, and that is, were there any legislative barriers to implementing your parking pricing program?
Not particularly, and if one of the goals for cities out there is to better manage transportation and to better manage congestion, there's a lot of different paths to achieve that goal. One of the advantages of a parking-based approach is that the legislative hurdles are low. Parking is usually a local matter, so it just requires local approval rather than congestion pricing, which often require State approval, so for us, the legislative problems were the least of our concerns.
No legislative hurdles; the Council was very helpful. Here in the District, we only have the right to do variably priced meter operations in our pilot zones. So, for example, outside of the pilot zones, we have either premium or normal demands zones. A normal demand zone is $0.75 an hour, and those usually go off at 6:30 pm. In the premium demand zones they charge $2 an hour, and those go until 10 pm. So we have the ability under the enabling law in the District to adjust meter rates beyond those normal premium demands and the hours of operation as well within the pilot zones, so the Council was very helpful. We've had a champion on City Council who has helped us out, and the mayor's office has also been extremely helpful in this.
Mary Catherine Snyder
I would just add that I think legislation would be beneficial. Our one to two space policy is in our Seattle Municipal Code, and our department has the authority to set rates of parking hours within our paid parking system. It is very important and a really great benefit to be able to point back to the legislative process and say, through actions by our elected officials, they set a policy that we are implementing. I would really encourage people to enact a policy in the code or laws so that there is an overall enforcement or policy guidance.
We have another question to put out to all of the presenters. Which is more effective in creating open spaces and turnover: pricing or time limits?
When you take it from the point of view of the driver, what the driver wants to see is an open space. That means that availability is what the driver wants. Turnover is essential only when all the spaces are full and the only way to find a space is to see somebody leaving. That means you will have to wait in traffic and as soon as you see somebody with a key in their hand approaching their car. Availability is easy to measure, turnover is hard to measure, and availability is really what the drivers want and will eliminate cruising. I would say that turnover was a very clumsy idea when it wasn't easy to measure availability. Availability is far better than turnover as a goal. In San Francisco and Seattle, I think they stated clearly, what is the goal? It is hard to say what the right turnover is you're aiming for, especially since you can't measure it.
It seems that if we achieve the right availability, the turnover follows. On one block with fewer stores, maybe the turnover can be lower and we still have one open space, but on a different block, we might need higher prices to make sure we have an open space, and that may result in more turnover. I really admired Redwood City, which was one of the first cities to do demand- responsive pricing. They went straight to no time whatsoever. We've done that in some areas, and we've done 4 hour time limits in other pilot areas. Their experience and ours thus far is that in those areas where we don't have time limits, we don't have an occupancy or turnover problem. We are managing towards occupancy we don't see huge changes or even relatively minor changes in parking behavior and length of stay, and really, availability leads to the right amount of turnover, whatever that might be.
I think this is a good question. We measure turnover in all of our pilot zones. If there's anyone listening who's trying to figure out how to move into performance-based parking, performance- based parking is a metered block policy; it's a program for meters. That being said, in most jurisdictions, and the District is a great example of this, if you don't figure out how to mitigate spillover impacts on non-metered residential streets that are contiguous to the metered corridors, then you are not going to be able to get political or constituent buy-in for performance-based parking. The reason why we measure turnover is because our stakeholders have told us that they want to know how long people who don't live in their communities park on their blocks. In part of our presentation, we talked about the residential permit parking streets and resident only enforcement. These were all things that we incorporated into our performance-based parking program to garner support. The reason why turnover is important to us is so we can report back out to our stakeholders what is going on along your curbside that is not metered. Turnover rate is not that important for a metered corridor; occupancy rates are the most important things there. We have found that performance-based parking simply would not work unless we had a corollary for the residential blocks that have the spillover impacts as a result of us modifying the meter rates.
Mary Catherine Snyder
We are actually looking at extending our time limits quite a bit, from 2 hours to 4 hours or all day, to see if that will help encourage people to park in those areas, and particularly in the districts on the edge of the hotspots in the neighborhoods, so really to provide some value parking on the edges where the rate might be lower or the time limit longer and see if that will draw a few people out from the core busy area. That is what we're looking on right now. We will see if that works.
We are out of time now. I know we still have a lot of good questions that we have not gotten to, so I will send those out to the presenters and try to get written responses that I will send out with follow-up information to everyone who registered for this webinar.
I want to thank all of our presenters today. We had great presentations and a really good interest in the topic. Thank you also to everyone in attendance and thank you for your questions.
The next webinar is going to be in April. We are holding these every other month. It is not open for registration, but once it is, I will send out an e-mail. If you registered for this webinar, you will receive that e-mail and I will put you on our congestion pricing webinar e-mail list. If you did not register today or somebody from your office is interested, send me the e-mail address and I can add that to the list.
With that, we will close out for today. We will try to get written responses to all the questions we did not get to. Thank you, everybody, and enjoy the rest of your day.