“Drive Boston” Car Share Program Takes Away Resident Parking Spots


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.”

Car Share Reserved SignMore 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.

33 Replies to ““Drive Boston” Car Share Program Takes Away Resident Parking Spots

  1. Someone needs to research actual ownership of those parking spots. Most old cities have public easements only over sidewalks and streets. That means once the city relinquishes public use, the land reverts to the real owners, the abutters. City cannot sell/rent what it does not own.

    1. Our neighborhood has a ratio of 3 cars per space and that ratio will be increased with the loss of more parking. The residents should come first in every neighborhood. I am very sorry to see this happening, we should all share our thoughts.

    2. Note to my brother and sister attorneys in the North End. There is a case on point concerning the City of Cambridge and Harvard.

  2. its all about the MONEY, we live in a disgrace and dishonest world, is that why it had to been done at night so no one could see what was being done behind all our backs. The North End is not precious anymore. Its a joke.

  3. I wonder if the parking spots will pay real estate taxes or is the public paying for the snow removal on these now private spots. Why can’t they be leased in a pilot program so they are not lost forever. Who approved this?

  4. “Why can’t they be leased in a pilot program so they are not lost forever.”

    That’s exactly what this is – an 18-month pilot. The spaces were rented, not sold. This article is incorrect. The author could have figured this out easily:

    As for taking away parking, companies like Zipcar claim that each of their vehicles reduces private car ownership by ratios ranging from 9:1 to 13:1. You don’t have to fully believe those numbers, but even as low as a 2:1 reduction would actually making it easier for residents to find parking.

      1. The site and the RFP actually say the spaces are leased, and that the city didn’t take the “highest bid”, in-fact, the city set the price and published the fee before it went out to bid when you read the documents. Appears like they were looking for quality of service to users (aka residents) in the process, not highest bid. Turns out that there are hundreds of car-share users who live in the north end, so I guess that could be seen as actually helping some residents out, eh?

        1. Thanks for the clarification, Casey. I removed the word “highest” from my previous response. I was told it was done through a bidding process. You seem to have detailed information on the pricing. If you want to email that to, I would be happy to share the fees and factors being used. As for your question whether this helps residents, I will leave it to the readers to decide for themselves whether putting car share spaces in resident parking spots is a good idea.

  5. I agree with you Angela. Recently I was having dinner in another neighborhood of the city and overheard a conversation in which people were saying how the North End is a ‘ghetto’ and it’s no longer the quaint, special neighborhood it once was – how sad, not all change is good…

  6. Why do they need to take street spaces when their are many (unused) zipcar already in all the lots? Just another way to stick it to the longtime residents in favor of transient yuppies, students and tourists.

  7. This is absolutely insane. Were the residents of the North End notified that this was happening. Is this going to be benefit the North End Residents? Did press releases get sent out to the media so that they could let the residents know what was going on. How much more is the city going to take away from their residents so that businesses can prosper. The bid should of been sent out to every business owner and resident owner in the city so that we could bid on the spot for our renters and business CUSTOMERS. The Mayor is acting like a thief in the night. The North End and other parts of the city should ban together and protest. Call your Councillor’s at Large and your City Councillors. How much more are they going to take away from us.

  8. These cars are not being used by tourists. They are being used by residents of the North End like myself. Having these cars available in the neighborhood allows me and countless others who live in the North End, not have to own a car which would take up far more parking spots than this thoughtful program.

    1. Many people like myself who own cars, use Uber taxi’s and even Zip cars so they won’t lose there space on the street. I don’t believe much thought was put into this program and residents should have been notified.

    2. Your missing the point, Marc. It’s not about having Zipcar or Enterprise, it’s about allowing them to buy limited residential street spots instead of the excess spaces in the parking lots.

  9. Sad hopefully he’s a one term mayor he’s not for the north end it’s money for his city that he needs to put back because of all the waste he does so it will make him look good

  10. They could at least put these spaces across the street in front of the coast guard base. Makes no sense to have residents cross the street to park and have visitors get our spaces in front of our homes. So lets let our senior residents cross the main st and hopefully not get hit by a car / truck or a tour bus
    And I did see this getting done under the cover of night fall what sneaks.
    They have meetings for everything under the sun in the neighborhood but not this because its money for the city.

    Do the right thing Mr Mayor and move these away from our door step and put it down near the park on the water side.

  11. I agree! The Walsh administration is very pro corporate versus for residents and protecting neighborhoods. This is another example he in the pocket of corporate Boston. Quality of life issues are not on his city agenda!


    I agree with all of you and this is only the beginning. Wait until the Casino in Everettt is developed.

    We have to do some Serious Soul Searching when we vote for our Politicians. Did any of you ever see the
    sign on Cambridge St. years ago. It read the City & State are corrupt, and they made sure the
    sign didn’t stay up there too long. I wonder why? These are the people we have to seek out.

    Zip Car & another car rental company are in the old Brinks Garage. The City found another means
    to make more money at Residents’ Expense again.

  13. I am not convinced about the corporations claims re how many cars they take off the road, but maybe it will turn about to be a good pilot. However,
    1.there should have been an opportunity for neighborhood input and notice, AND
    2. those huge corporate logos painted on the public street are offensive, just like all the alcohol ads displayed on the filthy solar operated trash compactors that no one wants to touch. Must we be bombarded with ads, even by the city itself???

  14. I read the story in the paper when it first was published last week. The comments all were good. I didn’t like the idea of the way City Hall snuck these spots in in the dark of night. The deck seems stacked against North End drivers. If you are going to sell on-street parking spots, at least keep them together on the waterfront side of Commercial Street. These car sharing companies can easily afford to rent spots in local parking garages. The streets belong s to neighborhood residents. Car sharing companies don’t belong on the street using up needed parking on street for residents. Bad idea. Won’t work in positive way for residents and the monies coming in for selling off valuable on-street parking won’t overcome the negative impact on North Enders for doing so. The people had a right to know this idea was coming without waking up in the morning to this news.

  15. Thursday the Oct 27th was the 1st day that these new spaces on Commercial st reserved for Enterprise Car Share had the street cleaned. Well guess what our new neighbors did not do. Both vehicles got tickets and were towed for not moving like the rest of us have to do every Tuesday and Thursday. Still waiting to see if the Mayor will change this location. He will not get my vote his true colors are showing in my opinion.

  16. Marty Walsh has been sticking it to the North End since he took office and you have no one to blame but yourselves. He comes in here having cookouts with the elderly, makes appearances at the parks and you people all fell in love with him. Now you can look at a nice new hotel on the waterfront and less parking, just to name a few things that the wonderful Mayor is spearheading.

    It will be evaluated after 18 months? Bull, all they’re going to look at is the revenue it has created. This is all about more money for the city of Boston. Marty never had your back. Wake up.

    Nice job North Enders. Marty owns you now.

      1. I’ve been here for a number of years Jamison. So, yes, I’m speaking for myself, and what I’ve observed over the years. This city in general has this love affair with politicians who pander to the middle class, elderly and minorities. That’s well and good, but the reality of it is, the politics in Boston/Massachusetts are as currupt as you’ll see anywhere in the country. Walsh was a union guy. He’s beholden to them. That was never a secret. So now we’re all up in arms about the hotel? It’s not over either. The Olympics, etc.. He’s legacy building, chasing a guy in Menino that did take care of the city (and I’m saying that as a Republican, so my vote might as well been written on a napkin).

        1. Menino was as corrupt as anyone… look at his control of the BRA and the lease of yawkey way to the Red Sox…

          But as it relates to this, where is Aaron and Sal? Where are our city councilors?

  17. Joe you have my vote. I love the truth and you couldn’t have put it any better and I truly believe
    according to most of the e mails above, most of the North End Residents agree with you.
    Kudos to you Joe. The only ones that might disagree are those on the City and possibly State

  18. People only get away with what you allow them to get away with. I saw these reserve signs on
    Charles Street as well Commercial St. What are we going to do about it? I say North End/Waterfront
    Residents along with Beacon Hill Residents “P R O T E S T” outside City Hall. It is called fighting
    for our Rights. We have gotten pushed around far too much. Let all our Neighborhood Committees
    have a meeting or two regarding this parking issue and set a date to protest outside City Hall and
    let us involve as much Media as possible; sitting back and complaining on the internet is not a
    solution. Strength is in Numbers, let’s PROTEST.

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