SF may slash parking fee, but meter hike awaits

San Francisco’s transportation agency is seeking to repeal last year’s parking meter transaction fee, but in its place would be a parking meter hike throughout The City.

The proposed rate increase of 25 cents, if approved by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Board of Directors on Tuesday, would not take effect until 31 days after the board’s approval, the transit agency said.

In July 2015, the SFMTA board approved a 27-cent fee on drivers for each credit card and phone transaction made at parking meters. The fee was meant to offset costs to meter vendors and processing charges; however, transit agency officials recently discovered they must scrap the transaction fee.

According to a SFMTA staff report last month, the imposing fee is a violation of Visa’s operating regulations, which applies to The City through its credit card processing agreement with Bank of America Merchant Services.

If the SFMTA continues imposing the fee to customers, the transit agency said it could possibly lose access to payment processing services and be subject to fines.

Instead, the SFMTA staff is recommending replacing the fee with a 25-cent parking meter rate increase throughout San Francisco.

SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose said though the transit agency has replaced all of the “legacy” meters with “smart” meters in The City:

“The additional payment options, which have improved the customer experience, have resulted in additional costs to the SFMTA’s Meter Program in excess of $6 million annually.”

The report said the transit agency would be on the hook for $6.2 million annually, which would come out of its operating budget.

Currently, The City has five parking meter zones with different hourly rates. The SFMTA staff is recommending the parking meter rate hike be implemented through all zones. For example, hourly rates in Zone Five, which is part of the SFPark Pilot Program in the downtown area, could range from 50 cents to $6.25, previously 25 cents to $6.

The last parking meter rate hike happened in 2009 with hourly rates increasing by $0.50, the transit agency said.