There are too few parking options for Boston drivers. Meter parking is a nightmare: even if you’re lucky enough to find a spot, it’ll cost you $.25 for 12 minutes in most areas. Some streets have newer machines that accept credit cards, but many still only accept quarters. If you’re 15 minutes late feeding a meter, expect a bright orange ticket tucked under a windshield wiper.
Your next-best option would seem a parking lot or garage, but due to an improved economy and development in areas that used to house cheap lots, spots have become scarce, not to mention more expensive. For those who want to visit the popular Downtown area by car, finding a parking spot can be frustrating, to say the least.
Pam Messenger is the general manager of Friends of Post Office Square, which owns the Congress Street parking garage at Post Office Square, located at 130 Congress St. Messenger said she has seen a significant decrease in available spots in the Financial District over the last 14 months. She attributes it to the end of the recession and development of Boston’s Seaport District, where swanky condominiums have scooped up many commuter parking lots.
“More and more people want to drive for various personal reasons, so I do think we have fewer spaces,’’ she said.
The Post Office Square Garage has 1,400 spots, but Messenger said they park between 1,500 and 2,000 cars a day. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, midday, is the busiest time for the garage, Messenger said. She often has to close it to new customers.
“I’ve seen people get upset,’’ Messenger said. “People are late for meetings, job interviews, or pitching a new client and they can’t find a place to park their car. It’s bad.’’ She currently has a list of 65 people waiting for subscription spaces that cost $475 a month. She tries not to give too many of these out — just 610 — to allow spots for people “coming and going.’’
Price increases are another trend. On July 1, Post Office Square raised their monthly passes by $20 and their daily maximum rate by $1. “We watch everyone around us,’’ Messenger said. “We all watch each other.’’
Yoseissf Mehe manages the Atlantic Wharf parking garage on Congress Street in Seaport. Like Messenger, he said he has seen a decrease in available parking. Most of his garage’s 391 spots have filled up every day this year. Mehe said they raised their prices last month, increasing the monthly fee from $475 to $485.
“We survey others’ prices before raising ours,’’ Mehe said. Twenty-four hour parking at Mehe’s garage is $40.
Though Messenger hesitates to call Boston’s situation a “parking crisis,’’ she said parking could definitely get worse over the next couple years. If the Harbor Garage next to the New England Aquarium and Government Center Garage are torn down, Boston could lose thousands public parking spaces, she added.
Messenger recommends commuters use public transportation whenever possible. For day-trippers, she suggests trying to “push their day back.’’ While daily fees at Post Office Square will set you back $36, many parking garages have deals that start later in the day and allow drivers to pay relatively little for overnight parking. “This works if you’re going to the aquarium, going to see a show, or getting dinner,’’ Messenger said. At Post Office Square, it’s $9 after 4 p.m., but you’ll have to be out at 5 a.m.
Any other options?
If you’re just coming into Boston for a night on the town, dinner, or a movie near Boston Common, try looking for a loading zone. Yes, a loading zone. There are tons of them, and did we mention they’re free?
One such hot spot is on Newbury Street, near the corner at Hereford. There’s a loading zone on the left that’s clearly marked and wide open after 8 p.m. daily. Park there, grab a bite to eat, and make sure to be gone by early morning.
Another option is to park in Cambridge and take public transit into Boston. Parking garage prices are generally cheaper and you may have better luck finding a spot. For example, at the 1,400-spot parking garage at Kendall Square, daily maximum rates are $25, about $10 cheaper than most deals Downtown. Take the Red Line from the Kendall/MIT train station to Park St. Station and you’ll be in the thick of things within 15 minutes.
If you’re really set on that Boston parking garage, try ParkMe, an app that helps you find geographically convenient and available spots. It also allows users to compare rates, reserve spaces in advance, and pay by phone.