Smart Parking | Plans + Projects | Our Work

Smart Parking

Both the availability and cost of parking have a major impact on our travel decisions. These factors can affect our choice of travel mode, and sometimes even our decision whether to “go” or “stay.”

Parking policies also have a major impact on land-use patterns, greenhouse gas emissions, and the cost of housing and commercial development.

Paying for a parking meter with the Pay By Phone app
Photo by: Mike Jensen

Policies for both on-street and off-street parking vary widely from city to city.

MTC has developed a Smart Parking Toolbox to help local governments better manage parking supply and demand.

MTC also supports cities by:

  • Funding local plans for parking areas around transit stations
  • Sponsoring parking workshops for local governments
  • Providing technical analyses of parking policies’ impacts
  • Developing models that can be used to re-estimate the demand for parking based on various pricing approaches and transit availability.

Looking for fact sheets, policy documents, updates and technical reports on this topic? Visit our library and type “smart growth” and “parking” in the search field.

For more information on MTC's regional parking initiatives contact:

James Choe, Transportation Planner
(415) 778-6664

MTC in 2014-15 spearheaded a two-year Value Pricing Pilot project, or VPP for short, to:

  • Create a new regional parking database framework to be populated with both new and existing data
  • Analyze regional parking pricing policies using land-use and transportation models
  • Conduct workshops for cities and counties demonstrating local parking analysis tools and exploring case studies
  • Review, report and present findings and recommendations

Partners in the Value Pricing Pilot included the Federal Highway Administration, Caltrans, ABAG, local governments, congestion management agencies, transit agencies and others.

MTC's Value Pricing Pilot Parking Regional Analysis Project used case studies, academic research, policy analysis and data analysis to examine the relationship between parking pricing, policies, and supply and demand in 25 locations around the Bay Area. Key findings include:

  • Most locations studied have a lot of unused parking, even during peak-use periods
  • Many locations don't have pricing policies that effectively balance parking demand across the neighborhood
  • There is a lack of coordination in pricing between on-street and off-street parking
  • Many parking requirements are not closely aligned with demand of the relevant local population
  • When parking garages are included in transit projects, there's often a failure to analyze the relative cost and effectiveness of pricing or alternate modes
  • Employee programs that charge for parking are the most effective in reducing driving
  • Regional parking policies are a logical policy approach for developing the state-mandated Sustainable Communities Strategy

Economics — Free parking can reduce the cost-effectiveness of transit services by providing an incentive to drive.

Equity — Lower-income residents own fewer cars, but most still pay for parking bundled into housing costs even if they don’t own a car.

Environment — Imbalances between parking supply and demand can contribute to congestion, which increases tailpipe emissions.