Mayor declares war on parking-space saver app

Mayor Walsh says he loves him some apps, but not one that alerts people to the nearest metered parking spaces - and let's them alert other users that they're about to leave. In a statement today, the mayor says the city will fight Haystack, which recently launched in Boston

In a statement, he says:

At this time, we are not engaged with Haystack in any discussions around a partnership. City representatives have met with Haystack to explore their service, and at this point, we remain concerned that their app, and apps like it, artificially inflate the cost of parking, and allow individuals to profit from public space. We are exploring our options to protect the residents and consumers of Boston.

In a separate statement, he adds:

The Boston Transportation Department (BTD) welcomes innovation in all aspects of urban transportation, including the use of apps by smartphone users. BTD is excited to pursue new methods of easing congestion and promoting green alternatives for all those who live and work in the Boston area. Such methods, however, must not interfere with the public’s right to access public resources, including parking. Pay-to-park' apps may impede access to public parking spaces.

By inviting users to transfer the occupancy of a particular parking space for a fee, these apps may subject public spaces to private regulation. Use of these apps while searching for a parking space may also lead to distracted driving.

BTD, the entity with exclusive statutory authority to regulate the flow of traffic and manage parking in the City of Boston, ensures fair and equal access to public resources. As such, BTD will continue to evaluate any and all systems that may infringe upon the public’s right to equal access and/or those that may artificially inflate the cost of spaces on Boston roadways and in municipal off-street parking lots, and BTD will take appropriate measures to prohibit any such app that is determined to do so.

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Comments

economics 101

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If BTD actually wanted to ensure fair and equal access to metered parking, they'd raise the meter rates until there was actually a chance at getting parking. The only reason Haystack has a viable business model is because the parking meters are priced so far below market value. Wouldn't it be better to have spots available, and that money going to the city instead of a private app?

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Let Me Get This Straight

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Some poor prick who can only afford a shitbox shouldn't have as much access to parking in Boston as someone who can afford to drive a new Lexus. That IS the basic idea you folks are espousing, right? I mean, at what price point do you seriously think street parking spaces will magically open up? $10 an hour? $20? $100?

Please tell me you aren't the same people who cry about "economic justice" on other threads. At least give me that.

Suldog
http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com

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You want a space or what?

At $1.25/hr all the spaces get snapped up quick leaving a shortage of parking for the people with the crapbox cars.

At $15/hr there is plenty of parking but the only people who want it also have luxury cars and $15 is pocket change.

Either people will be pissed that parking is too expensive or people will be pissed it's too hard to find. The makers of the app in question are inadvertently creating more parking spots and raising the price.

The city will get the same amount of money either way so the real winner here is the early risers with crapbox cars. The late risers with crapbox cars will still be circling the block, maybe even more then previously.

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Congratulations on those

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Congratulations on those luxury cars and pocket change.
Haystack isn't going to create anything in Boston because Marty Walsh will send them packing. NOBODY has the right to make money on a public parking space and no company should be profiting from public spaces.

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What part of market rate

... do you not understand?

There is no right to drive. There is no right to subsidized parking. Parking is a scarce public resource - it should be priced accordingly.

In Boston there are multiple alternatives to driving. When I get tired of paying for parking, guess what? I don't drive into the city. When I find it convenient to drive in, guess what? I pay to park in a lot for $20 a day.

Besides, this whole "poor person who can't afford blah blah" is a complete strawdriver. In San Francisco, that poor, indigent car-dependent person would not only be able to find a spot right next to where they were going and save time versus the circling method, they could choose whether to pay a high rate for a short time for time saving and convenience, or to walk a few blocks and pay a much reduced rate (in some times and places, considerably lower than the current flat rate).

Want more spaces available? Talk to the RMV about linking records with DPH and recalling the disability placards of dead people. I'm serious - some blocks in the Innovation District and Fort Point, 1/2 to 3/4 of the meters are occupied all day by cars with placards (driven by what appear to be able-bodied drivers able to walk into downtown).

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Sounds reasonable

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See this article: http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/18588/how-to-fix-parking-price-...

Does this mean that parking is just a luxury for the rich? Well, no.

One of the most interesting findings of San Francisco's experiments with parking pricing, according to Tumlin, is that demand is extremely sensitive to location. Right on a main drag like Valencia Street, parking might cost $4.50 an hour. Just around the corner on a side street, it might cost $2.50. Just another block away, garage parking might be available for $1.00. As in every other facet of life, you can choose to save money by giving up a little convenience.

If you start pricing parking at $10 an hour, I seriously doubt all spots would still be full. The correct way to manage this is with performance parking, where price is adjusted based on demand. The driver of the shitbox probably won't be able to park right in a high demand area, but they would still be able to park somewhere, they just have to give up some convenience.

I don't think parking is something we should be subsidizing, as the negative externalities probably outweigh the benefit.

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The Shoupistas are going to be all over this one...

The short and sweet of it:

- Knee jerk reactions help no-one. Everyone is affected negatively by "under priced" parking (car users and non-car users). When parking policy is closely examined you can find that the non-car user "subsidizes" parking.
- Market rate pricing impacts car users (even the really really rich ones) and will encourage them to park more rationally, while reducing the externalities they produce.
- If done right (and Boston sucks at this) the neighborhoods could directly benefit from the market rate pricing in the form of neighborhood improvements (parking benefit districts).

I wish I had more time but I will let someone else take up the torch till I get home. :)

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supply and demand

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"Some poor prick who can only afford a shitbox shouldn't have as much access to parking in Boston as someone who can afford to drive a new Lexus. That IS the basic idea you folks are espousing, right?"

Hello, strawman. An extra quarter an hour isn't going to mean the person driving the "shitbox" suddenly can't afford to park. Also, the person with the Lexus isn't necessarily better able to afford it; in fact, the guy with the "shitbox" might have far more disposable income, precisely because he didn't buy a vehicle that's going to depreciate faster than you can say "Toyota."

The idea is that because parking spaces are so cheap (and there are so many free parking spaces), people are not discouraged from driving into Boston. Supply and demand (and since we're not talking about essential goods and services, like food/healthcare/shelter, your indignant attitude is highly amusing. You do not have a "right" to parking!)

We have too few people in too many cars. So roads are congested. Which means our bus transit system can't operate efficiently, emergency vehicles are hampered, assholes park in places they shouldn't, goods can't be delivered, pollution per mile skyrockets (idling engines going nowhere fast), and people get all cage-rage-y in the traffic; peak pedestrian and cyclist deaths are during rushhour, for example.

Did you ever notice that Boston traffic is much less of a problem in the summer, the air seems nicer, etc? There's a reason...a huge chunk of the population (students, many of whom have cars) are gone.

In addition to raising meter rates, BTD and the RMV need to start aggressively enforcing the existing laws regarding out-of-state registrations for all the people (college/grad students) who feel entitled to own a car in a major coastal city and not pay the appropriate taxes, registration fees, and insurance rates. There's plenty of other options for them - walking, biking, the T, Zipcar, and carpooling with friends. Again: you are not entitled to own a car here.

We have too many cars. Period. That's why we have so few commercial vehicle loading zones (so the trucks end up parking in bus stops), why people double park/park in crosswalks/park in front of fire hydrants, and so on.

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undergrads are exempt

Boarding-school and full-time undergraduate college students are exempt from the requirement to register their cars in-state, by Massachusetts state law. Students above the undergraduate level are not.

You bring up many good points

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You bring up many good points! Someone has lived around the block from me for at least 4 years, they have a NJ plate, it infuriates me!

All those meters on Back Bay

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All those meters on Back Bay side streets which sit empty after 6 pm when they become resident permit only -- would you consider them overpriced or underpriced?

SF has had success with

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SF has had success with demand-based pricing. It would make sense to raise the price and a short time limit on the meters downtown and on Newbury St while all those meters on Comm Ave in Allston that sit unused all day could be 4-hour (or more) and 50 cents an hour. You could even do things like have the first hour at $2 and additional hours at $4 apiece, to encourage people to move after 1.

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On Saturdays, at least around

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On Saturdays, at least around Fort Point, it costs more to park at the meters than in a private lot. You can park all day Sat in a humongous lot on Melcher for $5.00.

Parking

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Do you know why the meters are so cheap? Because for some twisted reason BTD/the City have to go to the statehouse and beg the legislature to approve ANY increase in feed and fines, including how much various parking tickets cost. I don't know this came about and it is ridiculous. You get a bunch of suburban reps who think they look tough besting up on City officials.

Space Savers!

By inviting users to transfer the occupancy of a particular parking space for a fee, these apps may subject public spaces to private regulation.

But owning a parking space after a storm or even the entire winter is just fine, right? I guess tire slashing isn't considered private regulation around here.

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.

I'd like to see this haystack go up in smoke.

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How about an app that

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How about an app that actually reserves an on street parking space for a person free of charge until they return and slashes violators tires? I call my invention uKone!

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I have

the Southie App. It's an old recliner i keep in my pickup for open spaces.

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bulgingbuick

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Let it go. Breathe in, breathe out. Honestly, the number of people on this site obsessed with Southie is a little bit strange. Time to get a life, kids!

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Actually, it's the other way around

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The rest of the city isn't really obsessed with South Boston, but a certain subset of South Boston residents are obsessed with ensuring that every single comment about the neighborhood is met with overwhelming rhetorical force. As you so aptly put it, time to get a life, kids!

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This is not the same poster

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This is not the same poster as above, but a quick glance at the comments section suggests that snarky comments come from multiple groups of people. Also, it appears this website has selected 3 times as many pages of stories about South Boston as the North End, South End, and Beacon Hill, and also more than Cinatown and other neighborhoods.

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Which proves what exactly? I

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Which proves what exactly? I mean, other than that someone from Southie is so up in arms that they actual spent time out of their day compiling those stats.

I don't live in Southie, and

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I don't live in Southie, and never have. It is very precious, however, that some people are so committed to muster whatever snark they can about an entire neighborhood that houses a wide variety of people. It really is just boring to look at. If that is what gives you self confidence, then whatever.

Also, clicking to the last page of some neighborhoods to compare how many pages hardly constitutes "compiling stats".

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Yeah, only townies and good

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Yeah, only townies and good ol boys are allowed to privatize public space!

Mayor might want to consider that parking in Boston is waaaaay too cheap if stuff like this app is popping up.

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Puffery

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Pay-to-park' apps may impede access to public parking spaces.

No more than if my buddy called me and asked me to hold a space that I was already parked in and legally paying for.

Use of these apps while searching for a parking space may also lead to distracted driving.

But I thought: "The Boston Transportation Department (BTD) welcomes innovation in all aspects of urban transportation, including the use of apps by smartphone users." Do you welcome the use of apps by smartphone users or is this an evil that will lead to distracted driving? If we're going to puff our chest at every app that might be used while a person is driving, then we're going to end up like the orange angry bird. How about we just use the laws we have against distracted driving and stop using it as a canard for why you don't like a particular app.

BTD, the entity with exclusive statutory authority to regulate the flow of traffic and manage parking in the City of Boston, ensures fair and equal access to public resources.

Ah, so you don't have total control if people are determining when they leave a space based on when others are arriving...so therefore it is inherently bad because you have exclusive control over parking management. That's their whole argument right there beyond the hand-waving and sophistry of the rest of the statement.

As such, BTD will continue to evaluate any and all systems that may infringe upon the public’s right to equal access and/or those that may artificially inflate the cost of spaces on Boston roadways and in municipal off-street parking lots, and BTD will take appropriate measures to prohibit any such app that is determined to do so.

What about apps that reduce idling, excessive trips around the block, and so on? What if instead of meters it only regulated permit parking in areas where space is tight? Suddenly issues of cost are irrelevant, but it would still be an issue of equal access seemingly. So, cost is just a red herring as it is sufficient but not necessary as a cause of their consternation.

You could argue that by having a subset of the users self-selecting their parking spaces, they no longer have any interest in the rest of the available spaces. This means users who don't choose to reserve ahead of time via the app now have a greater probability of getting the spot they want because it's not being taken by someone who had increased their search as they couldn't find anything where they wanted it. If I would prefer to park closer to Arlington but I'll settle for walking from Exeter, I may take a spot at Exeter just to avoid not finding anything by Arlington. However, now someone who wants to park near Exeter has reduced choices. If I'd used Haystack to find someone near Arlington with a space, then this wouldn't have occurred.

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A suggestion

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Not one to only complain, I've got an idea.

If I read the numbers right, we make about $15M/yr in parking meter collections. We make about $45M/yr in parking fine violations. How about we just remove all the meters and up all the other violations 50%?

If I also read the numbers right, we haven't even been spending the parking meter revenue for the past 2 years or so (and minimal amounts spent prior to that). It goes into a fund that's collected and grown to nearly $100M like a mini-parking-meter-endowment.

How about you just spend some of that to beat Haystack at its own game by making a priority parking app where you can reserve ahead of time for an extreme fee or at the very least view which meters are currently at 0:00. Then you could let people tell YOU and other drivers when there's a meter marked 0:00 that still has a car parked in it, in real-time Waze-style. Thus, you could better direct meter/violation enforcement.

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Whatever are you thinking Kaz?

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Shhhhhhh!

That's one of the mayor's slush funds - don't tell anyone about that. It's how Menino rode to the rescue any number of times making "tough" fiscal decisions, but always mysteriously coming up with a few million bucks whenever he needed it. I'm sure there are a few more accounts like this laying around. (for the record - no evidence Walsh will do the same).

Makes it so much easier to claim the city is broke when you have discretionary trust funds parked around the city. All a shell game.

Asked Murphy, the supposed council budget guru, one time why this revenue fund - budgeted for millions one year - had no money in it about 8 months into the year. He said he'd get back to me. Still waiting - like 5 years later. Some guru.

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No need

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There's nothing about a parking meter that makes people move their car. Do you think it magically closes the slot after they park for 2-4 hours?

Chalk marks (manual) or the license-plate readers (automatic) determine if a car has violated the time limit. The meters make it necessary to visit your car every time your period runs out but the enforcement comes from marked signs and dogged return visits by BTD. (Fun fact: if you move your car but stay on the same block, you're actually still able to be given a ticket. You have to move an entire block before you're allowed to park again in a new time limit.)

Neither chalk marks or license plate readers nor signs marking the time limit require meters and could be both enforced AND have stiffer penalties for violators than it does now to make up for "empty meter" violation revenue too.

Logistics though.....

Lets say you live in newton, and want to drive 30 minutes downtown and reserve a KAZ space for $5.25. Does that space stay open once you reserve it? Who is to say it is still open in. 30 minutes?

well I would comment my

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well I would comment my thoughts but Adam will only approve posts that fit his personal opinion or belief. makes for very lopsided comment arguments.

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Indeed, I've gone mad with my censoring ways, bwa-ha-ha

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Seriously, if you're anonymous and your comment is just an insult to another poster or if you're posting something Heraldesque about people in Section 8 or on food stamps, or who, more generally, are just members of a particular ethnic group or race, then, no, I'm not going to post it. It's possible to debate somebody without just calling them some garbage name and, yeah, I'm letting out my inner liberal by refusing to let through anonymous comments that just trash entire classes and races of people.

Also: To the person who just throws in random messages that read, in their entirety, "I'm gay" and "Or not," well, I hope you're enjoying yourself.

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Well what does having a user

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Well what does having a user name have to do with clearing up anonymous posters? So everyone must be using their real name in their user name, right? Even if it's a real name that's pretty general info... I am sick of the racist stuff too and have no idea about that last paragraph, but no one is better than anyone else simply because they are non-anonymous.... It's a blog and people tend to debate in blogs..

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Nope, not real names

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You don't have to supply ID when you apply for an account. But there seems to be something about actually getting an account here that makes people less, well, less anon-Herald-commenty.

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But yet u post all the

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But yet u post all the bashing of Quincy comments from your company moving to Cambridge post that rendered massive hate toward Quincy .. Come on bro, don't have a double standard

On street parking should be

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On street parking should be eliminated entirely, except for deliveries. Current garage capacity should be far more than the city realistically needs, after that leave it in Arlington (or wherever) and get yourself a hubway or train or taxi or pedicab or walk. Boston is not a huge place.