Parking fees will go up to $6 each weekday starting Aug. 1
By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Southborough/Westborough – As a way to increase much needed revenues, the Mass. Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) has announced that parking fees will go up at a number of commuter rail lots, including Southborough and Westborough. Starting Wednesday, Aug. 1, those fees will increase by 50 percent each weekday, from the current $4 to $6. Parking fees on Saturday and Sundays at those lots will go down, from $4 to $2 per day.
The move, MBTA officials said, is also an attempt to reduce congestion at lots that are filled early in the mornings, such as Westborough, which is many times completely filled by 7:30 a.m., and have commuters instead use lots that are not as well utilized.
Of the 99 facilities the MBTA oversees, 21 will have weekday price decreases, 32 will have price increases and the remaining 46 will stay the same. Ninety eight of the facilities will have a rate of $2 on weekends.
Currently if Westborough commuters get to the lot too late for a space, they are advised, via a small, battered sign, to seek parking at the Ashland or Grafton lots.
State representatives Carolyn Dykema, (D-Holliston) and Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) both were critical of the move by the MBTA.
“MetroWest commuters need and deserve a reliable public transit system, especially in light of increasing congestion on the Mass. Turnpike,” said Dykema, who represents Southborough, one precinct in Westborough, Hopkinton and Holliston. “Given how far we are from this goal, it’s hard to justify the proposed fee increases, which will make our system less, rather than more, attractive to riders.”
“I believe that commuters on the Worcester/Framingham line should experience reliable, consistently on-time service before seeing an increase in fees,” said Kane, who represents one Westborough precinct, as well as Shrewsbury. “Additionally, we have been working with the town of Westborough and the MBTA on how to expand parking at the Westborough commuter rail station given that the lot is at capacity. I would hope that any new parking lot revenue is devoted to adding capacity.”
Westborough Town Manager James Malloy said the town is currently looking at the possibility of creating 33 additional parking spaces on Smith Valve Parkway.
“These would utilize the same Pay by Phone app that the MBTA uses and would be managed and enforced through the MBTA with revenues (less administrative expenses) coming to the town,” he said.
“Since there may not be any support to create a town-owned lot at some point the town may want to approach some of the private property owners in the area to see if any of them are interested in creating additional parking (which would also use the Pay by Phone app and generate revenues for them),” he added.
According to the MBTA, fifty percent of commuter rail riders start their trip with parking. Although the age and employment status may be similar to non-parkers, parkers tend to be wealthier.
The MBTA is also looking into possible “premium” parking spots at some locations. They are also considering an increased rate at some lots for “event parking” (such as sporting events and concerts) which would start after regular commuting times.