If there is one image about living in a city that conjures the most collective shudders, it's circling the block near your apartment looking for parking. Around and around and around again...
The City of Boston, in conjunction with Mayor Walsh, the Office of New Urban Mechanics, the transportation and innovation and technology departments, and the parking clerk, announced on Thursday a one-year pilot initiative to combat that very problem in two of our most congested neighborhoods: Back Bay and the Seaport.
The goal of the Performance Parking Pilot: study the relationship between parking and demand.
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"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."
According to a City release, parking meter prices in Boston haven't been adjusted since 2011, when they were raised to $1.25 per hour. The pilot is aimed at better understanding the need for, and ultimately allocating, curb spaces in the areas of the city where people need it most. After looking at cities like San Francisco, which have tested similar approaches, it was determined that each block should have roughly one space open at all times in order to cut down on congestion.
The initiative will begin Jan. 3 and test two different models. Here's how it will break down:
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. ... 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.
"With Performance Parking, Boston drivers should be able to park easier and circle less," said Boston's Chief of Streets Chris Osgood. "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."
Here are some more important facts from the release:
The Back Bay has a mix of multi-space and single-space meters, and approximately 1,650 spaces will be impacted.
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.
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.
More information, including prices and timing of affected meters, will be posted online.
Image via Boston.gov.