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Drivers Lose a 27-Cent Parking Subsidy – KPIX and KTVU Lose Their Sh*t

The sky is falling! San Francisco drivers paying parking meters with credit cards will no longer get their 27-cent credit card transaction fees bankrolled by the federal government.

Image: KPIX
Image: KPIX
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For KPIX and KTVU, this was the scandal du jour. "It's already pricey to park," said KPIX anchor Elizabeth Cook. "How bad is it really going to get?"

"We're talking 27 more cents!" reporter Mark Kelly responded. "When word got out parking in San Francisco would cost even more, upset drivers weren't hard to find."

Is it ever hard to find upset drivers?

Reporters also had no trouble finding drivers unaware of key facts. Like that the cost of transaction fees was previously subsidized, or that drivers who pay by phone will actually drop from 45 cents to 27 cents per transaction, or that 90 percent of street parking in SF is free at all times.

The end of the credit card fee subsidy was prompted by the expiration of a federal grant in support of the SFpark program, which ended its "pilot" status in 2013.

The SFMTA plans to expand SFpark-style demand-based parking pricing to meters citywide, which will save drivers time and, in many cases, money. At SFpark meters, rates have dropped by an average of 4 percent, and meter-related citations decreased by 23 percent. While KTVU and KPIX were sure to note that meter rates range from 25 cents to $6 an hour, that top price only applies during 1 percent of SFpark's meter hours.

Context isn't necessary, though, when KPIX has a target audience to enrage. "Now it's on you, the driver, to foot the $47.7 million bill over the next nine years," Kelly said in his segment.

"Muni doesn't have the money to absorb that?" Kelly asked SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose. Read: "How dare you make motorists cover a little bit more of their own costs! Can't you cut some bus routes or something?"

People called the surcharge "a frustrating sign of the times," said KTVU's Cara Liu. "The cost of city living getting just a little more out of reach."

Ah yes, in the midst of a housing crisis that's driven the median rent up to $3,450 a month, a 27-cent credit card fee for drivers is the straw that might break the camel's back, according to KTVU and KPIX.

The SFGate blog also quoted a couple of "annoyed" drivers, though their comments about the fee weren't quite as inflammatory. "Locals say 27 cents isn’t a significant amount of money," SFGate noted. "The pay-by-phone option is great because it is convenient," one woman said. "Paying a steep convenience fee won’t stop me but it will certainly annoy me."

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