Mayor: Boston parking too cheap

A new way to pay for parking could come to Boston.
A new way to pay for parking could come to Boston. –The Boston Globe

The price of downtown parking, if you ask Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, is just too low.

In prepared remarks to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Thursday morning, the mayor said his administration is considering bumping the price of metered parking in parts of the city based on demand. Doing so, he said, could help free up parking and decrease traffic on busy roads.

“At $1.25 an hour, our meters are 3 to 5 times cheaper than other cities’,’’ Walsh said. “In busy areas, they increase congestion by creating an incentive to circle the block. So we’re going to study a plan that could give select parking meters flexible rates, based on demand.’’

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Walsh said the idea would be modeled after a similar program in San Francisco, and that the “price shifts would be reasonable.’’

“The bottom line is: $1.25 an hour isn’t working in our busiest areas,’’ Walsh said. “I like offering a good deal, but not at the price of stress and gridlock on our streets. It’s not helping anyone. And we should be looking at any plan that can help us change that.’’

In 2014, the mayor denounced a smartphone app called Haystack, which allowed car owners who were parked in a public spot to put access to the spot up for sale. The Boston City Council voted to effectively ban the app shortly thereafter.

While officials were quick to toss Haystack to the side, its short run in the city created a public discussion about Boston parking. The prospect of demand-based changes in parking rates came up a few times during that process.

And the city’s announcement earlier this year that it would replace its parking meters with Internet-connected meters fueledspeculation that demand-based parking rates could be on the horizon.

When Boston built the Zakim Bridge:

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