A Day in the Back Bay Parking Game

David Bates / May 29, 2012-11:43 am

The other day was the weirdest day ever in the Back Bay parking game.

Losers of the game on Dartmouth Street

The weirdness started at 8:43 AM, 43 minutes after enforcers, now dressed in their summer stately blue, had started doling out $25 hard copy reminders that the city’s meters need to be fed at precisely 8 AM. Nonetheless, I didn’t see a ticket on my car, which I had parked at the corner of Newbury and Dartmouth, one of the most heavily enforced streets in Boston. I might have won the opening game of the series with the enforcers, but it was a long day.

Later in the day I was reading how the city enforcers had nearly 1.5 million wins in 2011. That’s a lot of tickets. If you don’t include Sundays and holidays, that’s about 5,000 wins a day, a win about every 17-seconds. In other words, there weren’t very many times when they let a guy not feed a meter for 43 minutes and beat them. The enforcer wins amounted to more than $1 million in revenue a week ($62 million annually) for the city. Still, a little while back, some guy in Newton had blogged that the city’s parking meters should cost more. Weird. Then I thought about it.  A timed public space on Newbury Street will run $2.50 for two hours, but the lot at 149 Newbury Street will charge you $36 to park for the same two hours. I know the citizens of the Commonwealth subsidize a percentage of every MBTA ride through taxes, but are they subsidizing Newbury Street parking to the extent of a 95% discount? I thought the Newtonian might have a point. Weird.

I played the game flawlessly for the rest of the day, expertly moving my car three times without finding an orange friend on my windshield. Around 5PM, the parking weirdness that had begun my day, was intent on closing it too. I witnessed a guy asking a short-sleeved enforcer for some quarters for a meter and… she gave him the quarters instead of a ticket. Maybe some planet was in retrograde? Maybe it was a sign of the apocalypse? But I like to think, as weird as it was, it was just good sportsmanship between those who know how the game is played. So don’t hate the players, just play the game.