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Mayor Walsh announces Performance Parking pilot program

December 1, 2016


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The City's one-year pilot program will study the relationship between parking price and demand.

Performance Parking graphic on spaces

BOSTON - Mayor Martin J. Walsh, the Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics (MONUM), the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) and the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) today announced a one-year pilot program to study the relationship between parking price and demand. Starting on January 3, 2017, the City will adjust meter rates in the Back Bay and Seaport neighborhoods to study how parking meter rates can reduce the search time for parking and reduce street congestion.

"Boston is focused on reducing crashes and providing safe, livable streets for all pedestrians, cyclists and drivers," said Mayor Walsh. "This parking pilot will help us manage parking spots more efficiently, reducing congestion, gridlock and distracted behavior by drivers. We look forward to working with drivers, residents and businesses to provide the best quality of life for all in our City."

The pilot was developed alongside a larger study to be released by A Better City, a nonprofit dedicated to improving Boston's economic health and quality of life. This study examines the future of parking in Boston and how parking policies can best promote economic opportunity and enhance community access.

"Over the past year, A Better City and the City of Boston examined existing conditions of parking in Boston as well as reviewed best practices from around the nation to help improve the parking system for residents, visitors and the business community," said Richard Dimino, President & CEO of A Better City and Co-Chair of Go Boston 2030. "I look forward to the kick-off of this pilot, which is based on proven strategies that should make parking more available while implementing a flexible pricing model."

Parking meter prices have not been adjusted in Boston since 2011, when they were raised to $1.25 per hour, the current price for all metered spots throughout the City. The goal of the parking pilot is to better allocate curb spaces. At the end of the pilot experiment, a portion of any increase in revenue will be reinvested locally. All parking meter revenue is deposited into the City's Parking Meter Fund, and its uses are limited to transportation-related purposes.

The Performance Parking Pilot will test two different models to adjust parking demand. In parking spots in the Back Bay, meter prices will be raised to $3.75 per hour, bringing prices in line with street parking in other major cities. The Back Bay has a mix of multi-space and single-space meters, and approximately 1,650 spaces will be impacted. The Back Bay area included in the pilot is bounded by Beacon St., Arlington St., Stuart St., Mass Ave and Charlesgate. Over the course of the pilot, the City will collect data on parking patterns on each block of the pilot area to measure how parking occupancy changes with this adjustment in price.  

Currently, Back Bay street parking is at 90% occupancy rates each day. The goal of this change is to make drivers less inclined to park at a meter all day, and instead utilize off-street garages and parking lots or shift to another mode of travel. By encouraging all-day parkers to seek off-street parking, there is projected to be more turnover in the parking pilot areas, increasing access for those short-term visitors who wish to park for quick trips visiting shops, businesses or restaurants.

In the Seaport, the demand for on street parking changes throughout the day. For this reason, the parking pilot in the Seaport will employ parking meter sensors to adjust parking prices based on parking occupancy, and parking spot location. Prices will be re-set every two months, and will remain consistent in two-month increments. Prices will stabilize when occupancy reaches the target of 85 percent, about one space open per block.

On January 3, 2017 all meters in the Seaport pilot area will be priced at $1.50 an hour and adjust by 50 cents every two months. Approximately 591 metered spots will be adjusted over 40 blocks. High demand blocks will increase by 50 cents, while lower occupied blocks decrease by 50 cents. The minimum price will be $1 per hour, and the maximum price will be $4 per hour. Price will vary by four time bands (weekdays 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.; 12 p.m. - 5 p.m.; 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. and all day Saturday). Prices will be posted on meters and available online.

"With Performance Parking, Boston drivers should be able to park easier and circle less," said Chris Osgood, Chief of Streets. "Less time spent each trip searching for parking can mean less congestion on our streets, less emissions in our air and more time spent where we want to be -- at our final destinations."

"Our top priority through our Vision Zero work is to reduce serious injuries and fatalities from traffic crashes through effective policies, engineering, community engagement and enforcement," said Gina Fiandaca, Commissioner of the Boston Transportation Department.  "Drivers searching for a parking spot are distracted drivers, and we know that around 30 percent of street traffic is made up of drivers searching for street parking. A key goal of this pilot is to open up more spaces and cut down on drivers looking for spots, creating safer streets for all."

"The City of Boston has a great track record of testing new parking technology over the last few years and it's exciting to follow the lead of other cities who have used price to shift parking demand as a next step," said Kris Carter, co-Chair of the Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics. "We are encouraged by results in other cities, which saw a significant reduction in time spent searching for parking spots by implementing these practices."

City officials have been meeting with community and business groups throughout the year, after announcing plans to start the pilot program in 2015.

The pilot will run through the end of 2017, and maps with detailed boundaries and prices of the two pilot areas can be found online. In addition, parking prices will be posted on meters and the City's Park Boston app. Residents are encouraged to share feedback on the pilot through