Surge parking meter pricing tested in Boston's Back Bay, Seaport

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Boston will test higher prices for parking meters throughout 2017 in two neighborhoods based on street parking spot occupancy rates, with price adjustments made every two months based on demand.
 
Starting Jan. 3, parking meters for approximately 1,650 spots in the Back Bay will charge $3.75 per hour, a threefold increase over the 2016 rate of $1.25 per hour.
 
Meanwhile, 591 Seaport parking meters will have a base rate of $1.50 per hour – an increase of 50 cents on blocks with occupancy rates of at least 90 percent and a 50-cent decrease on blocks with 70 percent or less occupancy, according to Gina Fiandaca, commissioner of the Boston Transportation Department.
 
The Seaport meters will be adjusted by 50 cents every two months as the city tracks the occupancy rate of each meter, Fiandaca said, with a minimum rate of $1 per hour and a maximum rate of $4 per hour. Rate adjustments will be announced on the city’s website and the city’s parking payment app.
 
“We’re in the process of getting sensors installed on the Seaport meters’ poles that will detect occupancy,” she said. “We should get some really good data on how the curbside parking spots are used.”
 
The city chose the pilot neighborhoods based on data that identified them as areas of high meter occupancy and high related traffic congestion, Fiandaca said. The Back Bay, for instance, has at least a 90 percent occupancy rate each day.
 
In both cases, the city hopes to decrease traffic congestion and create more street parking supply for people on short trips, with rates that encourage people parking for longer periods to use public transportation more or move to garages and lots rather than feeding the meter throughout the day.
 
Drivers circling for parking cause approximately 30 percent of street traffic, according to the city.
 
“The goal is improve availability of metered spaces, so you have less people endlessly circling blocks where the occupancy is near 100 percent and they’re not likely to find a parking spot,” Fiandaca said. “The objective is that on every block you find at least one open meter.”
 
The city developed the pilot alongside a larger study to be released by the nonprofit A Better City that will examine parking in Boston and how parking policies can promote economic opportunity and enhance community access, the city announced.