THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Boston adds 25 cents to hourly parking meter fee

By Travis Andersen
Globe Staff / January 6, 2011

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Parking at a meter in Boston will soon cost an extra 25 cents per hour, the city said yesterday.

The Transportation Department said in a statement that, weather permitting, crews will begin retrofitting parking meters on Saturday to allow for a rate of $1.25 per hour, up from $1. The increase is scheduled to affect all meters by the end of the month, the department said.

Transportation Commissioner Thomas J. Tinlin said last night in a phone interview that there was no single reason for the rate increase and that officials had been mulling it over for about 10 years. He said that while “it’s never a good time’’ to raise parking fees, officials believe motorists can handle the 25-cent increase.

He said the rate hike will pump an extra $3 million per fiscal year on average into the city’s general fund. “That puts books in classrooms and police on the street,’’ he said.

That was small comfort to Valentin Komarovskiy of Newton, 29, who was parking on Boylston Street last night.

“It’s horrible!’’ he said. “There’s not enough places to park and people will just go shop in the suburbs where there’s free parking.’’

But Maureen Smotherman of Westborough, 61, took a more sanguine view.

“Parking is a premium,’’ she said. “If I can get a spot on the street I’m happy, even with the price increase.’’

Meters in Boston will still be cheaper than those in cities including Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, and Los Angeles, the department said.

“Boston’s parking meter fees have not changed since the mid 1980s, when all of the old nickel and dime meters were removed from city streets,’’ the statement said. “At that time it cost $2.75 for a single movie [ticket] compared with $11.50 now, $1.09 for a gallon of gas compared with over $3 now, and $0.22 for a US postal stamp vs. the $0.44 that one currently costs.’’

Tinlin said crews will begin the retrofitting in the Financial District and then move to the rest of downtown.

Also, officials said, the city plans to launch a pilot credit card program at 144 single-space meters in the Financial District next month, as well as a smart card program in March, which will allow drivers to pay for parking with reloadable debit cards.

Globe Correspondent Christopher Girard contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at tandersen@globe.com.