Whenever I’m having work done on my car, as was the case last week, I bike from West Newton to the Y at Newton Corner. This time, after the discussion of Walnut Street parking vs bike lanes, I was noticing the parking situation along Washington Street between Newtonville and Newton Corner.
There’s a long stretch of 12-hour, 8am-6pm enforced, parking meters midway between Newtonville and Newton Corner (above), near Whole Foods/Marty’s Liquors, which are going begging. Why are we even metering this stretch? I’m not saying spend money to take them out, just put hoods or signs on them saying parking is free. They are a healthy, but not unreasonable, walk to either the Newton Corner express bus, or Newtonville commuter rail, so it’s a waste that they are not used. But at the current rate of 25 cents/half hour, or $5-6 for an all-day parker, there doesn’t appear to be much demand. My guess is that the whole package – price of the commuter rail vs. taking the T, frequency of T vs. commuter rail, and the convenience and price of parking, the whole package is not attractive enough.
There’s a similar underutilized stretch of metered spaces between Walnut and Harvard Streets (right), in between the stairs down to the Newtonville station. Meanwhile, there’s free all-day parking along the south side of Washington Street near Newton Corner (left), which is clearly being utilized, whether by commuters using the express bus, or people who work in Newton Corner, I can’t tell.
I looked up what a commuter pays getting to Boston by different modes. At current rates for a single ride: T with Charlie card – $1.70; express bus with card – $2.80; commuter rail from Newtonville – $4.25. For a monthy pass: T $59; bus $89; rail $135. And after July 1 rate increases, the spread is even greater: T $2.00, bus $3.50, and rail (with off-board purchase discount) $5.50 for a single rides, and $70, $110 and $173 monthy, repectively.
We in Newton can’t do much about commuter rail pricing or frequency of trains, but we could cut those parking fees, making it more attractive for commuters to park where there’s now excess parking that’s not in front of anyone’s houses, and away from where there isn’t.