Councilor: Forget quarters - it's time for parking-meter smartphone apps

Councilor Tito Jackson (Roxbury) says the city could boost revenue and free up downtown parking spaces by rolling out meters that accept payments via smartphones.

Jackson says the increased revenue would come by ending the current practice of people getting lucky and zipping into spaces that have time left on the meter - under a smartphone system, a meter would reset every time somebody new pinged the meter with a phone.

City Councilor Michael Flaherty (at large), said he loves nothing more than getting some free time at a space, but said he welcomes Jackson's proposal, in part because it would let the city crack down on the out-of-towners he says are currently getting free all-day parking in downtown Boston by hanging bogus handicap parking permits on their mirrors. "It's offensive," he said.



Free tagging: 


Why stop there?

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Smartphone parking apps are super convenient. The one I tried in D.C. keeps track of your spot and your time, reminds you when you need to return, or you can pay for an extension remotely. Heck, even cities like Pittsburgh are way ahead of us on the parking tech front.

But there's so much potential here. Do something like what SF did: manage supply using prices, and pinpoint vacant spaces on a map so that people can find them easily. By raising prices on some blocks, and lowering them on others, you can reach a point where there's almost always 1-2 open spaces on every block. And in SF, it turns out that after all the adjustments, the average price actually went down by ~1% from before.

Boston's parking rates on the street are way too cheap, but even so, a little change here and there could make a huge difference.

And for people without apps, you can put up electronic signs that direct drivers towards vacant spaces and are updated dynamically.

Really sad that for one of the biggest "knowledge economies" we have parking meter technology that would be familiar to people from 1935.

what planet am i on?

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Why should the city benefit from someone over paying for parking? ie- if there is 'time left' on the meter and someone else pulls in then they should be entitled to that space as it has already been paid for by the previous person. The proposed plan is comparable to someone showing up at a restaurant and opting to eat a plate of leftovers from the previous patron who paid for the food and then being charged again for that same food by the restaurant. However, I will agree that the handicap permits are being abused and should be drastically changed. I'm still not entirely sure why handicapped people in general should be entitled to free parking. Better spots, yes, but free parking, no.

Rather than focusing on ways to screw the residents of Boston and MA- maybe the government should focus on ways to control their spending. I'm sick of paying for someone else's mismanagement of funds.

I like the idea, but it will

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I like the idea, but it will mean the end to one of life's simple pleasures: Adding a coin to someone else's meter in front of the parking authority.

I was told by a meter maid

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I was told by a meter maid this was illegal, and as she watched me do just that she said proceeded to write the ticket regardless

Another idiotic "rule" that should be challenged

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For that matter, so should the whole concept of making people pay for the right to occupy a legal parking space on a PUBLIC street constructed and maintained with our tax dollars.

As for the concept of making parking "high tech" with more silly smartphone apps, ..........

Cry me a river

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The case law on regulation of parking is solid, dates back to the 1920s, with prominent rulings by MA judges.

Furthermore, what makes you so entitled to take our public land for the storage of your private automobile?

What else do you want to steal for yourself? Do we have to give up the Boston Common too, so that you can dump your cars all over that? Hey, our tax dollars support the Common!

There is no "right to park" on public ways. Period. It is just a convenience created by regulation for the purpose of fostering business, helping residents and visitors.

I am all for the use of parking to promote the greater good. Sometimes that means charging for parking. Sometimes not. Charging for parking is one way to ensure that ALL of the public shares in the benefit; not just the car owners. Also it's a great, market-oriented tool for managing supply and avoiding shortages.

But you most certainly do not have any right to dump your cars on my community just because "it's a public street." That has been settled law for nearly a century. Public ways are for intended for movement: storage of vehicles is a regulated use.

Those cases were settled at a time when parking had become such a menace that it threatened to block up all the streets and turn them into parking lots, making emergency response impossible. It might be hard to imagine just how bad it was in the 1920s because it's been so long. But before parking regulation, it was a real mess. Did you know that Boston actually outright banned on-street parking for a little while, around 1920, because of the problem?

Hey Anon

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Get a job


The point for today's meters is more for turnover than it is to raise money. You have meters in a commercial area, and they want to see customers. The reason the meter is 2 hours is so you can come, do your business, then drive off so someone else can then do business at local shops. If you want all day parking, go to a garage.

Which is why feeding a meter is 'illegal' - you're no longer turning over cars, and are now denying businesses potential patrons.

oh mr. flaherty, in-state

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oh mr. flaherty, in-state residents also use bogus handicap cards too. have you been to the north end lately? also, what are you going to do about police officers that leave their ticket book on the dashboard or their yellow coat on the seat? what about t-workers that park on sidewalks instead of paying for parking of taking the t itself to work? it wouldn't surpise me if boston lost 30% of its parking revenue to corrupt practices and incept city departments.

How do smart phone parking

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How do smart phone parking meters reduce handicapped parking abuse?

State law says metered parking is free and untimed if you have a handicapped permit. Smart phones won't change this.

John Tobin wifi-ed again!

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John Tobin wifi-ed again! (not really) (subs. req.)

Instead of fumbling for change at a parking meter, John Tobin wants to give Boston drivers another option: dialing for dollars.

That's the focus of a proposal that the fourth-term city councilor unveiled late last month, when he called for a hearing to discuss launching a pilot program in Boston that would allow parking fees at any metered space to be paid using a telephone.

"Not everyone has a lug full of quarters in the car, but just about everyone has a cellphone," Tobin, who represents West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, and Roslindale, said in an interview. "I say, let's put this technology to work."

Isn't part of the whole

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Isn't part of the whole metered parking ritual making you physically go add more money?

Otherwise in really popular spots you're going to get people who park and go off and do their business which may not even be nearby and defeating the purpose of getting some turnaround to give more people a chance at that spot. They would need to make it tied to one device (because we all know what they think of people feeding other people's meters) using a short range connection like Bluetooth.

But on the plus side (for the city anyway) is the whole variable rates thing to make you pay higher rates for staying put longer.

You can't just add money, in

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You can't just add money, in areas of high parking enforcement in Boston, you will get ticketed even if you add quarters past the two hour limit. It's happened to me a couple of times. There is a little phrase on the meters that I noticed recently, "must move vehicle one block after limit".


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Thank you ! Covering activities of Boston City Council in an understandable way addresses the lack of a balance of power between the Mayor's Office and Boston City Council. Regrettably, Boston City Council's lack in documentation of itself makes Boston City Council problematical and is part of what's behind a resultant lack of a balance of power between the Mayor's Office and Boston City Council. Compare

Ask for the Stenographic Record of Councilor Yancey's remarks on the Budget from today's Wednesday 26 March 2014 Public Meeting at

If the city wants more money

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If the city wants more money from metered parking, then all the city has to do is charge more for meter parking. $1.25 an hour is obscenely low.