Enterprise car rental and ZipCar companies have installed at least four “Drive Boston” car share spaces this week in what were formally North End resident parking spots. There are newly painted spaces with the companies corporate logo on Commercial Street near the Coast Guard station and on Cross Street near the Greenway. One resident reported the spaces were blocked off during the day and then painted overnight “under the cloak of darkness.”
More public parking spaces could be used for car sharing as the City of Boston expands the controversial Drive Boston program in downtown Boston. City Hall is leasing the public parking spots to companies such as ZipCar, Car2Go, Hertz, Avis and Enterprise through a bidding process. Once a company controls the parking spot, customers can pick-up and drop-off cars that will be placed in these spaces.
Car-share companies have traditionally made their cars available in private parking lots and garages. The difference with the new City of Boston “Drive Boston” program is that public residential street parking spots are being sold to the rental companies. Car sharing is widely used by those that do not own a car in the city and often cited as a more affordable option.
Some members of the North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) are none too happy about losing residential parking spaces to the new “Drive Boston” car share program.
“Parking is already extremely difficult for North End residents,” said Ryan Kenny, Chair of the NEWNC Traffic and Parking Committee. “Even the elimination of 4 spots has a significant impact on the quality of life of North End residents. I am confused as to how the City can eliminate resident spots by giving them to a private corporation for profit without going through a public hearing process?”
In the North End, as in most of downtown Boston, the number of available residential spaces already falls far short of the number of residential permits outstanding. NEWNC estimates 3,200 North End parking permits have been issued with just over 1,500 residential street spots.
Ed: Corrected to reflect the City of Boston is “leasing”, not “selling” the street parking spaces. Enterprise and ZipCar are paying $3,500 per year for each spot.