Logo   Parking in Boston, Massachusetts
Parking in Boston is definitely a problem, especially if you want to do it on the cheap.

Street near Bunker Hill, Boston MA
Monument Avenue from Bunker Hill Monument...




You can pay for parking at any metered spot in the city of Boston using your smartphone, laptop or tablet computer, or even a flipphone. Here's how:

Go to the ParkBoston website, or download the ParkBoston app from the Apple or Android app store, set up an account with a credit or debit card, pre-fund your ParkBoston "wallet," and then—the most difficult part—find a vacant legal parking space in Boston. Remember, you must still observe all parking rules, including resident-permit only, street-cleaning restrictions, snow removal, etc. Look for all restriction signs on the street before parking, just as you should if paying with coins.

When you find a legal space, enter the zone number of the space, your vehicle's license plate number, and your length of stay. You can extend the length later if you wish, but not beyond the legal limit, usually 2 hours. When your time is up, you must move your car to a different parking space in a different zone.

You'll be chargred a 15¢ "convenience fee" (!) for using the ParkBoston app, and you'll receive an electronic receipt for your parking-time purchase.

Note that the coin or credit card parking meter at your spot may read Expired, but this shouldn't matter—you've registered and paid for your use of the parking spot, so the meter doesn't apply. There's also no need to pay at a sidewalk parking receipt machine or to put a receipt beneath your windshield.

Also note that the ParkBoston app applies only to the City of Boston, not to neighboring cities such as Brookline, Cambridge or Somerville. So you can use it to park near Boston Common, but not near Harvard Square (Cambridge) or Larz Anderson Park (Brookline).

Parking Meters

If you don't want to pay by smartphone, you can always still use a coin or credit card parking meter.

Parking meters in downtown Boston charge 25¢ per 12 minutes, and parking lots charge much more, about $12 for the first hour or portion thereof. You pay by depositing quarters in the meter—no other coins accepted—or, for some meters, you can use a credit or debit card. Maximum parking time is usually 2 hours (the limit is shown on the meter), and it's enforced. After 2 hours, you must move your car or risk a violation and fine (see below).

Parking Receipt Machines

Some Boston streets have parking receipt machines instead of parking meters. You insert money in the sidewalk machine and receive a paper receipt displaying the parking time purchased, which you place visibly beneath the windshield inside your car.

Resident Parking

Residential side streets are often dedicated to Resident Parking, for which your car must have a special sticker. Do not park on Resident Parking streets if your car lacks the proper sticker, or you are liable to having your car ticketed (fined) and towed away.

Parking Violation Fines

Expired meter: $25, also charged for staying longer than the meter time limit, even if you've added money to the meter

Loading Zone: $55

No Stopping zone: $75

Towing: up to $90 (plus the applicable fine)

—Hydrant: $100 if you're parked too near a fire hydrant or fire lane

Handicapped: $125—the highest fine—if your vehicle does not show a handicapped parking permit.

Boston parking enforcement officers issue roughly 1.5 million parking tickets per year, earning over $65 million for the city.

If you stay for some time in Boston, do not accumulate a backlog of unpaid parking tickets: your car may be towed and impounded, held hostage until the tickets, interest and late penalties are paid.

Central Boston Parking Lots

For the visitor unfamiliar with the city, I'd suggest the large Boston Common Garage, entered from Charles Street between the Common and the Public Garden (map). More...

Another large garage is the Government Center Garage, at Haymarket between Government Center and the North End, near the TD Garden and North Station. More...

SpotLight Parking
Valet Service

SpotLight Parking is a valet parking service: using your smartphone and the SpotLight app, you locate one of their "hotspots"—parking garages at which you can meet a SpotLight valet. You order a valet, drive to the garage, turn over your car to the valet and go your way. When you want your car back, you request it and it's brought to you. More...

Suburban Park-and-Ride

The MBTA owns more tha 50,000 off-street parking spots in 102 locations in New England. You can park at many MBTA transit or Commuter Rail stations and ride the train or subway into the city. In many lots, you PayByPhone. More...

If you have only a few people, and want to visit Boston or Cambridge for a full day or more, the combination of MBTA parking fee and transit fares may not be as high as if you park in a commercial parking lot or garage in the center of Boston. More...

For example, the fee for parking up to a full day at the MBTA garage above the Alewife Red Line terminus off MA Route 2 in Cambridge (map) is $7. Add round-trip Red Line subway fares ($2.10 per adult per trip with a Charlie Card), from Alewife to the center of Cambridge or Boston, and for two adults the total cost would be $15.40. (Children 11 years and younger ride the MBTA subways for free.) That's less than the $18 parking fee for 65 minutes at the Boston Common Garage.

—by Tom Brosnahan

Driving in Boston


City Bus


Boston Transportation

Finding Your Way in Boston

Boston Hotels

Boston Restaurants

What to See & Do in Boston

About Boston

Around Boston


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Storrow Drive, Boston, MA

Cars pour into Boston daily.
Where will they park?

Street at night in Boston MA

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