Congestion Pricing for Parking Could Be Coming to Boston

If this works, it could make parking better.

Parking Meters by Tim Pierce via Flickr/Creative Commons

Parking Meters by Tim Pierce via Flickr/Creative Commons

One of the major characteristics about Boston that makes it so much better than other American cities is it is designed for people instead of cars.

The city is on a pedestrian scale, making it intimate and easy to navigate while on foot.

Of course, the pedestrian friendly nature of the city leads to some major headaches for drivers, like limited parking and traffic on streets that are more suitable as cowpaths.

On Thursday, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced at a meeting of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce that the city is looking at implementing congestion pricing for parking in areas around the city.

“In busy areas, they increase congestion by creating an incentive to circle the block. So we’re going to study a plan that could give select parking meters flexible rates, based on demand,” said Walsh.

Walsh pointed to San Francisco, where the successful implementation of congestion pricing reduced the search time for parking spaced by 43 percent. Hourly parking rates in San Francisco range from 25 cents to $5 per in the vast majority of the city, while areas around the Giants stadium can rise to $7 per hour during games. San Francisco has used congestion pricing for metered parking spaces since 2008.

With fixed rates of $1.25 per hour, Boston’s parking meter rates are three-to-five time cheaper than other major American cities, said Walsh.

“The bottom line is: $1.25 an hour isn’t working in our busiest areas. I like offering a good deal, but not at the price of stress and gridlock on our streets,” Walsh said

In a scrum with reporters after his speech, Walsh said parking rate changes will be “reasonable” and limited to areas like the Fenway, Back Bay and downtown.

The congestion pricing Walsh is pushing is limited to parking unlike a system in London where drivers are charged for entering portions of the city.

There is no timetable for when this plan will be implemented so you will have to hold off on whining about paying more for parking until then.