Mayor Martin Walsh announced on April 5 his plans for transportation investment for the fiscal year 2020, with an emphasis on safety, reliability, and accessibility. Investments include bike lanes, sidewalks, and the management of parking meters.
The City of Boston launched a parking performance pilot in 2016 in the Back Bay and the South Boston Waterfront, where meter rates were adjusted to see the effect on parking. In the Back Bay, a consistent price was applied over a larger area, and Chief of Streets Chris Osgood said that the results of the pilot “were on point with what we were trying to achieve.” He said that 30 percent of congestion in the city is people hunting for parking, and in the Back Bay they were able to reduce double-parking by 14 percent and reduce illegal parking by 22 percent.
“If you’re going to the Back Bay, you’re actually likely to find a spot now,” said Boston Transportation Department Commissioner Gina Fiandaca, adding that it improves public safety for pedestrians and cyclists as well. Osgood said that as a result of the pilot, there was a higher rate of turnover and more cars were able to get to the curb area. There has also been a 7 or 8 percent reduction in certain violations citywide, and revenue has increased even with the decrease in issuance of violations.
As a result of the pilot, Osgood said that they are going to implement a “more holistic approach for the entire city” starting on July 1 of this year. Meter rates in places like Beacon Hill and the South End will be $2/hour, which Osgood said will help reduce congestion for people looking for parking, as well as “free ups curbisde parking spaces for less double parking.” The current rate in these areas is $1.25/hour. In places like Fenway/Kenmore, where there’s a very high demand for curbside parking, the rate will be raised to $2.50.
Osgood said that these changes will increase revenue for the city (and estimated $5 million) and improve people’s commutes. He also said that they will continue to collect revenue (10 cents per ride) from Transportation Network Companies like Uber and Lyft in order to help fund transportation projects, and an additional $200,000 will be invested in the bus lane program.
The City will also invest $4 million in sidewalk repairs and reconstructions, and further expand the BlueBikes program to bring more stations to more neighborhoods, Osgood said. This is part of GoBoston 2030, which includes ensuring that every Boston resident loves within a ten minute walk of a BlueBikes Station.
There will also be an $800,000 increase in investment in safety and cleanliness, with the installation of new types of signage and rapid flash beacons, as well as an increase in the overall maintenance capacity in the city, Osgood said. More bike lanes will also be created and maintained. $300,000 will be invested in electric vehicle chargers, in order to bring therm to more neighborhoods in the city so they can be accessed by the public.
Fiandaca said that as of right now, there is no thought of a fee being implemented for resident permit parking, but “we’re always open to conversations with the community,” she said. She said that the approach to resident parking is in line with GoBoston 2030, and “a lot of work is being done with the MBTA to give people alternative ways to get around.”
“Investing in transportation that works for everyone—whether you walk, bike, take public transportation or drive—is our key goal as we continue to improve transportation in Boston,” Mayor Walsh said in a press release. “Creating an equitable city with opportunity for all means ensuring residents can move easily and safely around Boston, and these new investments, from bike lanes to reconstructed sidewalks, will go a long way towards ensuring Boston’s streets and spaces are safe, reliable, and accessible for all.”