urbanter

Student blog of the Stanford University Urban Studies Department

America’s Cup Parking Innovations

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It turns out that we here in the Bay Area will witness an incredible transformation in land use and transportation over the next two years.  The 34th America’s Cup, the prestigious international yacht race, and associated regattas are to be held in San Francisco between July and September of 2013.  Confirmed in December 2010, the city has just released its People Plan, which describes the transportation strategies they plan on implementing to accommodate for the 20,000 daily visitors they expect at the event. They plan to augment service along key bus, cable car, and rail lines as well as create secure bike parking. This will be a key event to showcase the effectiveness of the Bay Area Regional Bicycle Sharing Pilot Program, a project that a group of students in Urban Studies 164 (Sustainable Cities) is actively working on for the Redwood City component, and is set to launch in spring of 2012.

One interesting component will be the larger-scale launch of their SFpark program (which is currently in its pilot phase). This smartphone application and web interface will show real-time updates for the 25,000 parking spaces in 20 City-owned parking garages. SFpark also has the capability to set demand-based pricing to encourage drivers to go to underused lots.  They are looking into the possibility of incorporating other real-time data, like the number of spectators at the event, so that visitors can make informed travel decisions based on congestion.

This is an impressive effort on the city’s part to incorporate technology in the digital age. SFpark plans to provide its data to application developers, companies like Google and vehicle navigation systems so that it can be easily distributed. It will give drivers the ability to make real cost-benefit analyses when choosing to drive, walk, or take transit, and will endure far beyond the America’s Cup.  Even implementing the best and most efficient transportation infrastructure will not allow the Bay Area to meet its 2035 greenhouse gas emissions target as defined by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Demand pricing is a key component to behavior change, which will contribute to further reductions.  Transportation change facilitated by technology will appeal to an ever-wider public—because of its cool factor and convenience—and serve as a model for other cities overhauling their transportation systems. 

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