Parking & Driving, Boston
Be careful when driving around Boston. If you have an old map then some of the tunnels might not be on it yet. Also, a lot of the roads are one way, or turn into one way in the middle. This is especially true around the Theatre District and Chinatown. Also, for some reason, a lot of the roads aren’t very well lit in and around Boston University and Boylston Street so if it’s dark then be careful of people crossing the streets. There is still lots of construction going on so you will want to be careful when driving in general.
Remember that parking can be very expensive in Boston. The parking garages around Newbury run about $17 per hour and a half. You can get your ticket validated at the mall if you park on Boylston but it’s only a $5 discount. Other places in Boston can set you back about $50 for the day. Valet parking can save you a headache if you’re out for a dinner on the town and it’s not that much more expensive than parking on your own. My advice is to park outside of Boston and take the “T” in.
There is lot's of free parking to be had in Boston. You just have to know where to look. I have lived in Boston for years and have never payed to put my car in a garage. Good areas to find spaces are Charles Street between the Public Garden and Boston Common, Newbury Street and Boylston Street in the Back Bay (and any of the side streets that run between Newbury and Boylston) , Harrison Avenue in Chinatown, and most of the side streets in and around Post Office Square.
NEVER park ANYWHERE you may see a Resident Parking sign especially Beacon Hill as the people who live here tend to call the cops and have your car towed if they can't find a space of there own. Don't park on Tremont Street, Causeway Street, Batterymarch Street or Cambride Street, you will be ticketed.
Is driving in Boston as bad as they say it is? Why yes, yes it is.
Having driven in larger cities such as Phoenix, Toronto, and Montreal where traffic is reputed to be bad - Boston driving tops them all in terms of complicity!
So why is driving in Boston so darn bad? Largely in part because most of the city is not based on a square, grid system like most other cities. The Big Dig - the largest and most complicated roadway construction in American history even has their own website.
Anyone living in, near or having been to Boston ever, will tell you public transit is the way. One way streets a plenty, Boston must be the worst driving city in North America.
If you do get brave and think driving is best (which we foolishly did most the time) take your patience with you and plan, plan, plan well ahead of where you want to go. If you're not sure, pull over and ask and take an up to date, detailed map. A must!
Just when you think you've conquered Boston driving, don't get too thrilled. From experience, Bostonians are the most hostile drivers we've encountered yet. While Montreal drivers are impatient and hard to handle, Boston drivers are that - plus angry. If you even wait a nanno-second too long at a green light they're not above bumping your car, giving you the finger, screaming and beeping.
And thats what they do to eachother! So if you're a tourist you better familairize yourself pretty quickly with the area if you're driving. If you do find that driving is simply a must for you and the other drivers don't freak you out - parking in Boston certainly will.
Planning on spending a full-day at the New England Aquarium are you? Be ready to fork over $28 in US Funds (thats $45 Canadian). Going to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts? Be prepared to spend $17 US ($30 Canadian) for just two measely hours at the parking garage (which also happens to frequently be full).
In a nut shell, bring the most comfy pair of walking shoes you own!
I just need to reiterate my admonitions not to drive a car into Boston, especially the city centre. Boston is unlike any other city in North America in terms of its physical composition, and the winding, narrow nature of its streets coupled with the heavy congestion endemic of high population densities inevitably result in a nightmarish scenario for anyone used to the grid system of wide streets so prevalent on this continent. The accompanying photo is of heavy gridlock in a neighbourhood commercial district quite a ways from downtown, which was still nerve-wrecking to endure (the photo was taken reflected off my rear-view mirror). Unpredictable events, such as construction or flash flooding (Storrow Drive, one of the city's major highways, is rather low-lying and prone to inundation from the adjacent Charles River) can turn what can typically be a 20-minute joruney into one lasting two hours or more. Many intersections lack any indication of lane delineation, some highways allow for travel on breakdown lanes and road rage is highly proliferous. I urge even the most avid automobile aficionado to abandon their vehicle for the duration of their trip and make extensive use of their own legs or of the public transportation system for safe and rapid transit about the city. Despite whatever nightmarish things some individuals may have to say about the uncleanliness or inefficiency of the public transit system, nine times out of ten it will be a superior conveyance within the city centre to a car or truck.
Parking, of course, is another issue altogether. Having lived in the metropolitan Boston region for six years, I can locate free parking in several peripheral areas around the city centre, but it is impossible to penetrate downtown Boston without having to endure exorbitant parking rates. The most economical (and centrally located) garage is that under Boston Common, but it tends to fill fast even when none of the city's frequent events are taking place.
If you drive, pay attention to the roads. Lots of roads in local are tricky. They turn off suddenly rather than go straight. The road signs are small. So if you are not confident to your eyesight, and not familiar with Boston, wear your glasses and pay more attention to every cross.
Dont EVER EVER EVER, under any circumstances, drive you car onto Washington Street near the Downtown Crossing Area. The police wait on foot on the side streets leading to Washington Street and if you should have the misforture to accidentally turn onto one of these streets they will flag you down and give you a ticket. Be very careful driving in the Downtown Area below Washington Street because there are many one way streets that force you to turn onto other streets that have do not enter signs in the middle and before you know it BAM!!! you are heading onto Washington Street where you will be stopped and given a fine. This is a trap to designed to generate money for the city, because many people who are not familiar with Boston, will find themselves in this situation. The one way and do not enter street signs are carefully planned to force you onto these street where the police are waiting. It is best to get familiar with the area on foot before attempting to drive it. Walk down to Washington Street and stand on the corner in front of payless shoes and watch the spectacle unfolding in front of your eyes. There will be ten cars all lined up waiting to be ticketed.
Driving in Boston is dangerous for more reasons than you can imagine. Mostly because the roads don't make any sense, even to a Boston native. Commonwealth Avenue is a great example of this. If you decide to drive in the city please be careful and pay close attention to road signs. By the way, Boston natives have no fear what so ever. Also please don't drive up the T tracks. I've seen that happen one time too many.
I found that a great deal of study is needed to get into the suburbs with a vehicle. I read ahead of time to not even think of taking a car downtown Boston. The parking fee and nightmare directions and traffic will turn you off very quickly. Park and ride the public systems of rail, subway or bus.
In the rare event you find on street parking in Boston, you will often be greeted by a homeless person who holds your door open and offers to watch your car. GIVE HIM A DOLLAR and thank him with a smile! First of all, there is a good chance he will actually watch your car. Second, if you ignore him, you will find a long scratch on your car when you return.
If you are driving around Boston, do pay attention on the road... most of the roads are one way street... and allow left or right turn only... so bring a good map!! You might have to make a few turns before getting to your final destination~
If you're lucky enough to find street parking, your troubles are not over. The meter maids here are very efficient and merciless. Not to mention there are countless exception to regular parking days and hours, like street-cleaning day, snowplowing day, random street digging day, towtruck operators appreciation day, etc. It's enough to make you want to walk or use public transportation.
The Massachusetts Turnpike (Masspike) is the 138-mile long stretch of Interstate 90, which spans Massachusetts from West Stockbridge on the New York border to Logan International Airport in East Boston, and on to Route 1A. The Massachusetts Turnpike is generally known as the 'Mass Pike'.
The Masspike is a toll road; it costs $4.60 to travel from Exit 6 in Chicopee to Logan Airport. No toll is charged for passenger vehicle travel between Chicopee and the New York border. The return trip from Logan Airport costs $3 more, since the Ted Williams Tunnel has a toll in the Westbound direction.
Massachusetts uses a system of sequential numbering for the exits on the Pike. Since the time that the exits were originally numbered, more have been added, leading to situations like Exit 11, which is a minor state route, and 11A, which is a major Interstate 10 miles away.
Also, near Boston, some of the "exits" are actually solely onramps and are not signed as exits, so there is no "Exit 21" signed.
Traffic, roadworks and getting stuck in a tunnel on route to the airport, can make this journey hellish at times. Take some water and sandwiches, if you are travelling during the rush hour.
The South End used to be home to many of the city's assorted minority groups- blacks and hispanics especially, before its "rediscovery" in the late 1960s began its gradual transformation into a gentrified district of mainly white professionals. However, many of those who were forced out of the neighbourhood by rising prices return every Sunday to their traditional churches in the neighbourhood, causing a traffic crisis as cars from other city neighbourhoods pile up and pedestrians jam the sidewalks. In the photo you can see cars parked two deep down the centre of one street, begging to invite mayhem. It's just another arcane little traffic situation which continually beguiles Boston and holds it in the grips of tyrranical gridlock.
The good news about driving in Boston is that you'll eventually end up where you started. Watch the signs. They often sneak up on you. Left exit? Right exit? Just remember, it's better to turn around and start again than to cut through three lines of traffic to make an exit...be careful!