Technically, it’s free parking to everyone at Green P lots. But that hasn’t stopped some customers from paying drivers for help.
Lori Paulson, a green parking advocate in Boston, in 2015 began petitioning for state rules to be changed and paid parking to be accepted at the Green P lots. She got her wish this July, and paid lots can now be paid for with rewards cards from payment companies like PayNow. The program requires about a six-month waiting period, meaning people won’t be able to start paying for the parking until December.
“It’s a convenience for the drivers,” Ms. Paulson said. “You can avoid too much time in the auto and parking, and everyone has taken advantage of it.”
Drive by and you can see the signs warning people about the free parking.
Still, one sign stationed at the left turn lane in personable customer service.
The free parking signs say it’s legal to come in and charge others for the space, but it’s technically against the law.
We stopped by the swampland lot and read the signs, which said it was “non-refundable” to pay someone else for a space.
Our cashier wouldn’t let us place the paper bill in our car. It is illegal to accept or accept payment, and it would be illegal to leave a car unpaid for a period of time if there is, in fact, a time limit on the place it’s parked.
We also stopped by a cashier’s counter at a drug store, and another sign said they were accepting free parking money, and the cashier wouldn’t count it.
Another sign at the service station entrance said it was “best to pay someone if you want to avoid tickets.” We walked out of the office to a long line of cars going in. Someone was paid to wait in line at another machine with a card.
When the person counted the money and turned it over to the sign, he said he was on-call and that if someone paid someone else for a spot they would not receive a ticket. There was no chance of fraud, he said.
We got our photo identification out of our car and called the MIT parking manager at MIT, who said yes, that company is accepting Green P lots.
How it works at a pump
The sign at the BP gas station said its payment system requires drivers to swipe, enter a card number, confirm that they are present, and fill up the tank before they can pay other people.
Another sign in the parking lot said it would be illegal to show your ID and they might never even get the money back for that one.
See more of the signs at North Square and West End locations.
It will take about four to six months for people to be able to buy PayNow tickets for free parking at Green P lots.
The state also requires drivers to have valid photo ID.
Not free parking in the city, by the way
It’s illegal to give a green parking spot away in Boston, but some people have tried.
After a reader sent a note to us that said she saw someone paid a woman who had been waiting for a parking spot at her Red Line stop, you have to wonder what you get for giving up space on the city’s public transportation.
Take a look at this map that shows which spots are free and which ones aren’t.