Increase In Metered Parking Costs Led To More Spaces, Say Boston Officials

The city of Boston is lauding its yearlong test of higher metered parking prices in areas within the Back Bay and the Seaport District.

City officials announced Wednesday that the pilot program, which began on Jan. 3, 2017, showed increases in available metered parking spaces in both areas, as well as decreases in double-parked vehicles and resident-only parking violations.

The city used two separate models for each neighborhood in the pilot. On some often-congested arteries in the Back Bay, officials upped the price of metered parking by $2.50 to $3.75 per hour.

In the Seaport District, the city used what's called "dynamic pricing," using sensors in meters to determine the cost of metered parking rates based on the availability of spaces. The more spaces available, the less change needed to fill the meters. Within the Seaport's 40 blocks, meters varied block by block with a baseline price of $1.50 per hour and potential for changes in pricing during four chunks of time throughout the day. The prices were re-evaluated every two months.

Boston saw an 11 percent increase in open metered spots in the Back Bay, while the Seaport saw a modest 1 percent increase in available spaces, officials said in a statement.

Gina Fiandaca, commissioner of the city's transportation department, told WBUR that the reduction in double-parking and resident parking violations "told us that people were better able to get to the curb in metered spaces."

By that token, neighborhood residents were better able to park, too, as "illegal parking in a resident spot declined by 12 percent in the Back Bay and by 35 percent in the Seaport," city officials said in the statement.

The city says it's still unclear if the pilot program will mean more expensive meters for other neighborhoods in Boston. The pilot prices used in the Back Bay and the Seaport, however, will continue while the city analyzes the data.

Officials also hoped the program would increase public safety on highly trafficked roadways. According to the city's statement, 30 percent of street traffic is made up of drivers searching for street parking. Officials say the pilot reduced such traffic.

"Our goal in Boston is to create streets that work for everyone — whether you walk, bike, take public transportation or drive in our city,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said in the statement. "... The 2017 performance parking pilot has shown it’s possible to adjust meter prices and change our roads for the better, leading to less congestion, and more parking spaces for our residents and businesses, helping neighborhoods thrive."

Prior to the pilot, Boston had not changed its metered parking rates since 2011 when it rose prices to $1.25 an hour. The city said all those extra quarters from last year's pilot program will be reinvested into other transportation projects around Boston.


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Lisa Creamer Managing Editor, Digital News
Lisa Creamer is WBUR's managing editor for digital news.



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