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City to replace all its parking meters; move could mean parking apps and eventually higher rates near Fenway for Sox games

Mayor Walsh said today the city will spend $6 million to replace all of its street parking meters with "smart" units in constant communication with BTD - a move officials say will lead to better management of curbside parking.

At a City Hall press conference, Walsh said the money will come from the city's parking-meter fund - collected from existing meters - not the general fund.

Kristopher Carter of the city's Department of New Urban Mechanics, said the new meters will let motorists pay for any metered space with a credit-card and will lead to phone-app payments. He said he could see the city eventually creating a way for private developers to tap into the data to build apps that would let drivers find the nearest open space - an idea city officials blasted last year when a private company tried to do that on its own.

BTD head Gina Fiandaca said the units will also come with software that could lead to "demand pricing" on specific spaces. Although Fiandaca said the immediate goal is simply replacing the city's current meters, Walsh gave as an example Brookline's current system of dramatically higher parking rates at the meters closest to Fenway Park on game nights.

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The city makes an app that tells you what the closest unpaid meter location is. If you go there and report the car that's in that space currently with an unpaid meter, the city dispatches someone to write a ticket and you get $2 in free meter money to park somewhere else for your inconvenience and as a tattle bounty. This lets the city get real-time info on where spots are in demand yet frequently filled by unpaying louts. Over time, this lets them focus their efforts (keep more BTD people in that area) on a higher rate of return in ticket revenue than having them spread out and cover every meter everywhere all the time.

So instead of rewarding someone for camping a space looking for a reward for leaving, you give out rewards for finding revenue-generating violations while engendering goodwill to those that were inconvenienced by having to find another spot elsewhere.

I'm a genius.

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I wonder if this smart meter will be the fanciest kind that can detect a car moving in and out of a space. If so, it reports to BTD itself about cars that have overstayed the limit, and it knows when a spot is empty AND unpaid already. So it is a genius idea, but it might have already been subsumed by tech.

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My idea lets us spy on each other instead of the government's meters spying on us.

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Lol, NSA can watch my car anytime. Nothing to hide, nothing to fear! I just love paying taxes for snoops to look at mundane citizen crap. We don't have anything better to spend on, right?

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That's actually a really good idea.

Which is why the city will try to adopt it, by holding a Hack-a-thon® where it invites software developers to compete to implement the idea the best. Winner gets his app showcased on the city's website!

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I think demand pricing for street parking is a really interesting idea, and that this Boston Magazine article brings up a lot of good points. Of course, that same article also points out that the main reason that parking meter rates have stayed so much lower than demand would justify is the city's "fear of angering the public," so we'll see if the administration actually has the political will to try this.

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...where I park on Bay State road for $.50 to go see a Red Sox game. Now the meters will charge $20 to compete with the lots....
It's a losing proposition for us townies...

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Why cant "townies" walk or take the T to sox games like most people do?

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If you are a "townie" living in Boston why the heck are you driving to games?

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Let's say this 'townie' lives in say, Readville. They're supposed to take public transport to Fenway? That's a good way to double the time spend going to the game.

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Readville to Fenway in rush hour traffic is faster than Readville to Ruggles and walking to Fenway? In what world? Even if you do save 10 minutes, why should a local resident have to pay for parking, or wait until you leave the game to finally find a place to park for the night?

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People take public transit from a lot farther than Readville to the games. And its not much faster (if at all) considering traffic and looking for parking. One could also drive to Forest Hills and take the T to Ruggles and walk from there.

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People taking commuter rail from NH get to town faster than people coming on the red line ashmont. Or from any number of bus lines

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The commuter rail doesn't go to New Hampshire.

And it takes an hour to get to Lowell, versus, I dunno, 15 minutes from Ashmont.

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Townies take the T. Real townies know that the Green Line is a mess, and take the bus (1, 47, 55, 8, 19, 39, etc).

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Demand pricing only makes sense if there's a simple pattern to the rates.

The point is to discourage people from driving/parking at peak times. So people have to know what the price will be before they leave home.

If there's some kind of dynamic pricing, and people expect to pay $1.50/hour only to pull up in their car and find there's a "surge" and the price is $5/hour, that accomplishes nothing except pissing people off.

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Right, surge pricing could be frustrating, which is probably why San Francisco isn't doing it that way:

Last year, San Francisco instituted a dynamic pricing system. Meter prices now range from 25 cents an hour in less-popular areas to $6 an hour in high-demand areas, and are adjusted every six to eight weeks as city officials try to find the right balance between too full and too empty. The city also launched a website and smartphone apps that identify available spaces and the up-to-the-minute cost of meters on different blocks.

I'm not saying I know of a complete solution to this problem, but I do find the effects of the combination of the garage parking cap and the relatively low meter costs to be interesting food for thought. There's surely a better solution out there, and I'm glad to hear that the BTD and the New Urban Mechanics are looking for it.

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Isn't "surge pricing" kind of the system we have now, where you drive to a place, can't find a $2 on-street spot, and end up paying $28 to park in a garage? Seems to me the street parking might turn out to be a deal in some places by comparison...

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Now when you pull into a space, no longer will you be deighted to see 20 minutes left on the meter. No, you will pay again, and the city gets paid 2, 3, 4 times for the same block of time. When a machine is out of service, or the coin acceptor is broken (assuming they will even take coins anymore) you will be forced to use a credit card or find another spot. When a modem in the machine fails, BTD goes around writing tickets as payments are not reported to the central server.
Boston's war on drivers continues....

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No, the giveaway costing Boston residents revenue which would offset the need for property tax increases is ending. For too long drivers have been heavily subsidized paying well below market rates for parking.

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Whoop-de-doo. The city collecting a few extra minutes here and there, at $1.25 an hour, for parking spaces worth 10x that rate, doesn't amount to much.

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A war on drivers would be great! But we don't have one. Traffic laws aren't enforced around here unless it's something serious. Hell, even the police don't bother using their turn signals half the time. Given that Boston wasn't made for cars, this place is too easy for drivers.

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Nowhere was made for cars except the airport . Roads just happened organically. Nyc was built before cars too just happened they had used a grid because they were smarter

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Yep, Marco is right. When Marty says, "Now meters will take credit cards, what a convenience we will give to drivers", what he really means is,

A) We will now collect 30%-50% more per meter since you won't be able to use the time the person before you left.
B) We will save money on staff because we don't need to pay people to collect the coins.
C) We can more easily mess around with rates; experiment with demand pricing, etc.
D) We will have one more means of surveillance- knowing where you parked, when, and for how long. (Another bonanza for divorce lawyers and data mining companies).
E) Meter maids won't have to walk around looking at meters. They'll probably just email you a ticket if the database says you over-stayed.

I don't think these are all bad things. Demand pricing is an interesting idea. But just don't be fooled by the motives. It's not for your convenience.

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A) We will now collect 30%-50% more per meter since you won't be able to use the time the person before you left.

This is not a given. Electronic payment systems can be configured to allow you to use leftover time.

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They could give the spots away for free and I still won't park there on a game day. You are better off parking elsewhere in the city and taking the T.

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Two things that would greatly improve the Kenmore/Fenway experience (all the time, but especially on game days) are:
1. for the street parking along Comm Ave from Brookline Ave. to the Commonwealth Hotel to be turned into a cab stand. People park there for the whole game, or to go out at night, and then cabs just double park blocking the bike lane.
2. For Brookline Ave to be reduced to one lane each way (instead of 2 lanes one way and one the other) from comm ave to Yawkey, and enlarge the sidewalks. The sidewalks are so narrow there everyone streams into the street, and its not like both lanes on the 2 lane side are used, someone is almost always stopped or waiting for someone in one lane, so it cant move anyway, but with the narrow sidewalks people are blocking traffic. Take away the extra lane and add sidewalks and pedestrians are more likely to stay on the sidewalk and drivers are less likely to park in traffic.

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and then cabs just double park blocking the bike lane.

Don't forget the sandwich board that the hotel places actually IN the bike lane.

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Almost always end up in bottlenecking and gridlocking intersections. As bad as Fenway traffic appears to be, you don't need to make those streets one way, it would only make it worse.

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About time we entered the 21st century. With rising meter rates requiring 6+ quarters per hour, we're way overdue for accepting electronic forms of payment.

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It's a credit card sized card that you prepay and it works at all Boston meters. I put $50 on one a few months ago and have loved it. Only problem is they made it inexplicably hard to find one and harder still to reload, but the tech itself is pretty good. Not "pay with your smartphone" slick, but it sure beats quarters.

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And not because of the Red Sox. Because of the businesses and visitors to residents in the area.

All of the garages and lots around there jack their rates during games, regardless of whether or not you're going. How much are we talking as far as pricing goes? Would it be enough to not make it worth it go to to a restaurant or a movie in the area during a game?

What Boston should be doing is finding a way to ensure people who just have to drive in for games don't take metered spots AT ALL. Maybe finding a way for businesses to validate via these new "smart" meters or something like that, and charging the same flat rate as garages or lots would for a timeframe that is consistent with a game otherwise.

(Updated after having a point proven incorrect)

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Demand pricing ensures spaces are available for short term parking. All too often someone abuses a meter and parks all day or night in front of a business during events. The businesses with those meters out front then can't have their customers use the 2 hour metered out front for the intended purpose and suffer.

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If they're cheaper than lots/garages (as it is in Brookline), why wouldn't people take them for games? I know people that used to occasionally drive to work in the Back Bay and just take the ticket for being there all day because it was cheaper than the garages. If you can save money, why wouldn't you?

Also, it's really a catch-22 for ensuring the spots are open for business-Just because the spot is open, why would anyone want to pay some exorbitant amount for parking to catch a movie at Regal Fenway or dinner?

I suppose it depends on whether they use normal increments or a flat price for a max amount of time though.

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The Fenway cinema has great validated parking rates. Less than $5 for a movie if I remember correctly.

And one of the reasons Brookline raised the rates is because businesses around the Fenway area were losing short term parking for their customers. So in theory people might want to take the T ($3) than pay ($22) for a meter during the game. And the person wanting to go to the bookstore can still pay their 50 cents.

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accept the validated parking even during game days?

Also, I misunderstood the Brookline rate based on an article I read and looked into it more, and it does make some sense (original post updated).

I still don't know how I feel about demand-based meters though.

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Not 100% sure though.

The way Brookline does it is you pay regular rates for the first two hours (like any meter). The meters are enforced until 10pm though, and if you want to pay for 4 hours, you can, but the third and fourth hour are $10 each.

So you can still pay for two hours, or even go back and refered the meter if need be (if you are shopping or getting something to eat. People at games cannot leave the game and feed their meter and go back. That's the theory anyway.

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If so, then I'd like my extensive discount on whatever it is that you sell. Because demand pricing is stupid.

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and see what they think, especially the ones who live outside the inner perimeter of Red Sox games. Go see how or why Brookline started their program and who recommended it.

This isn't just demand pricing, this is more like special event parking.

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Meters are used extensively for bicycle parking. If they are going away, does the city have a plan to provide an equivalent number of bike parking posts? (The best idea would be to keep the meter posts and put rings on them.)

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But getting rid of meters clears the sidewalks for actual bike racks you would think or hope.

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If it put bike racks in its place, then okay. But if not, let the meters stay, they been more than useful as a place to lock a bike. Removing them is taking out a whole lot of de facto racks for bikes.

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Just replaced. The pay by space machines are not being considered I don't think.

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The Red Sox are currently coordinating a small lot next to Yawkey Way for specifically bike parking purposes.

It's on their website under the transportation menu, but it will be rolled out Opening Day for all home games this year.

This is only during home games though.

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This is one thing (of many) which Montreal gets right. All metered parking is handled by centralized pay stations. But *every* parking space has a post with the space number, which also has a bike ring on it.

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There should be a flipside to higher rates around Fenway on game days and Newbury Street on weekends and afternoons - lower rates at off-peak times and quieter areas. Many cities let people park for much longer than 2 hours at meters not in the middle of crowded business districts, like all those carriage lane meters on Comm Ave in Allston that are empty all day and fill up at night with restaurant/concert-goers.

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With all the breaches in credit card security, I've actually been moving back towards cash. I'm wary of having no other option but to swipe my card anywhere.

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If you only need it for parking you can buy a pre-paid credit card in cash. Worst you'd lose is the value of the card. Harder to track then a normal credit card.

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How about surge pricing on the T.. like in DC.

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surge pricing on public transit encourages people to drive

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