NBC10 Boston Responds

NBC10 Boston Responds and the Case of The Phantom Parking Meter

A public records request revealed that 31 tickets had been issued in a tight, but metered, space in the Seaport for “no stopping or standing” violations from January 2020 to January 2023

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In Boston’s Seaport neighborhood there is a parking meter that locals call “The Phantom Meter.”

That’s because some people who have parked in the metered space have been ticketed for parking in a “no-stopping zone”.

Story McMillan was one of them. She pulled into the space last November.

“I’m parked at the meter and then I go behind the meter and I see a no stopping, no stand sign,” she said.   “And then there was a hydrant that I didn't want to be too close to. But, I thought to myself, there's a whole meter here, it should be fine.”

But it wasn’t fine.  She got a $90 ticket.

She appealed it and got a hearing at Boston City Hall to argue her case.

“I went in with my pictures, my video, and really just explained exactly what had happened. And the hearing officer ultimately told me, you know, we can't dismiss the ticket,” McMillan said.   “He tells me, you know, about an inch of your bumper is in a no stopping no standing.  So then when he said that, I said to him, well, you know what?  The meter has to go or that sign has to go because like, you could see a look of recognition that he was acknowledging that there was an issue, but he wasn't going to do anything about it.”

McMillan said the hearing officer gave her a number for Superior Court and told her to tell it to a judge.  She told NBC10 Boston she left some voicemails but didn’t hear back. 

“So he's telling me, call Superior Court, and in the back of my head, I'm like, no, I'm going to call NBC10.  That's who I'm going to call,  literally,” she said. 

She paid the ticket and contacted us to get the issue with the space fixed. 

“It just was not going to sit well with me that they were going to continue to take money from people,” she said.

In a public records request, we found that 31 tickets had been issued in the space for “no stopping or standing” violations from January 2020 to January 2023.

And we checked out the spot which is located at 300 A St.

There is a working meter, but about 11 feet from it,  there is a light pole that has a “no stopping any time” sign on it with an arrow pointing away from the space. 

A small car wouldn’t have a problem, but we wondered exactly where your back fender had to be to trigger a ticket,  and why the space was so tight. We reached out to the Boston Transportation Department to get some answers .

A week later, a city spokesperson responded, saying:

"The Boston Transportation Department (BTD) investigated this issue and found that the signage at this location was incorrectly reinstalled on the light pole.  BTD will move the signs to the correct location which will resolve the conflict.  BTD will also dismiss the ticket and refund the fee to this resident."

The city quickly installed a new sign pole a few feet away and McMillan was happy to hear she’s getting her money back.

“I actually couldn't believe it. I felt proud,” said McMillan.   “People are going to be able to park at the meter and not be afraid of getting a $90 ticket.  

"I was so happy and so grateful. ...you guys made it happen. I was like, so stoked. I was stoked. So thank you so much. Honestly, I appreciate it.”

We asked the city if there was any recourse for the other 30 people who were wrongly ticketed in this parking space.   A city spokesperson tells us they are working to refund all of the people impacted by this error, and they should get their money back in the next few weeks.

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