Proportional Parking Fees: The MBTA Listens to Pioneer’s Recommendations

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The Pioneer Institute has produced extensive research on the MBTA. Not only has it provided analysis and criticism, but various remedies to policy.

In particular, Pioneer’s research has gained notoriety and resulted in a policy change. One issue that recently influenced MBTA policy was Pioneer’s research on the lack of available parking spaces at highly populated T-stops. In many of the parking lots the MBTA owns, it is difficult to find a parking spot, deterring many commuters, forcing them to drive into work, and exacerbating the decline in MBTA commuter rail ridership.

The MBTA has been trying to find a cure for the high demand, low supply of commuter parking. They have considered increasing fees to park in all parking lots. Currently, most parking lots charge anywhere from $4-$7. In an article in the Boston Globe published in 2015, executive director of Pioneer, Jim Stergios, said that a blanket fee hike is not the best approach.

Stergios and the rest of the Pioneer advised MBTA to “get a better handle on where more parking is needed and which lots are underutilized.” With a better understanding of what is needed, the MBTA can solve this issue easier. Pioneer went on to explain that there should be a proportional fee hike, where the more popular parking lots charge more in an effort to deter commuters from going to those lots. Less populated lots should have a decrease in fees to attract more people.

Recently, the MBTA did just that.

Starting on August 1st, 2018, in roughly 32 lots, parking fees will increase by $1-2 while in 21 others, the fees will decrease by $2. The remaining lots will see no change. The MBTA hopes that by raising prices in certain lots that are usually at maximum capacity, people will want to drive to lots that are cheaper.

Listening to Pioneer’s research and recommendations will alleviate much of the parking congestion. This new policy will hopefully entice commuters to seek parking in lots that face little competition for spaces. That way, overcrowded T stops will improve, and the MBTA can increase revenue from those who are willing to pay more to park.

With Pioneer’s help, the MBTA can maintain their ridership and increase efficiency.


Amy Tournas is the Roger Perry Government Transparency intern at Pioneer Institute. She studies Government and Global Studies at Colby College.